South African President Thabo Mbeki has held talks in Harare with Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway opposition faction. Mr Mbeki, the chief regional negotiator on the Zimbabwe crisis, has been trying to persuade Mr Mugabe to form a government of national unity. However, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition party, declined to meet Mr Mbeki. Before Saturday’s meeting VOA’s Akwei Thompson spoke with John Makumbe, senior lecturer of political science at the University of Zimbabwe the country’s political future.
Makumbe said that, technically, President Mugabe will rule Zimbabwe for the next five years, however, “it will be interesting to see how he rules this country with an illegitimate presidency that he has acquired ” he added.
On the issue of negotiations for a possible unity government in Zimbabwe Makumbe said that would be possible only if the conditions laid down by the Movement for Democratic change are met.
“Their members who are in prison should be released. The violence should stop and the military bases that have been set up throughout the country should be dismantled and the charges that are being faced by all MDC supporters and members should be dropped. Then I think the MDC will be willing to talk to Robert Mugabe as President of ZANU-PF, but not as President of Zimbabwe…” Makumbe said.
He went on to say that if the AU and SADC want a government of national unity they would have to mediate between the MDC and ZANU_PF. He said while sanctions against Mugabe’s government may be effective, a military option is very unlikely.