Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is reportedly calling on South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki to ensure a speedy and robust mediation process to resolve Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis. Annan who made the call on behalf of a group of elders statesman world leaders including Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu adds that there was need to end what he describes as Zimbabwe's governance crisis to end the suffering of the ordinary people.
His call was contained in a speech after he was conferred with an honorary doctorate in literature and philosophy yesterday at the University of South Africa in Pretoria. From Cape Town, political analyst Herman Hanekom tells reporter Peter Clottey that although Annan's call is pragmatic, it would be difficult for Mbeki to implement.
"I think it is very realistic to a degree, but if we look at the past, prior to 27 June presidential elections, the MDC (Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change) has called for the African Union to appoint a co-mediator to function alongside Thabo Mbeki as mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis. And there is enough cause and reason to support MDC calls because Mbeki has not been 100 percent neutral. But if Mbeki wants to make the goal point, he must accept, let's say, one of the eminent African negotiators, one of the past presidents to be brought into the process with him. If he (President Mbeki) believes he was neutral, prove the MDC to have been incorrect," Hanekom pointed out.
He said it would be difficult for President Mbeki to be significantly influenced by the group of elders to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis.
"I do not believe they can influence them (Zimbabwe rivals), but I do firmly believe that they can be a major broker component in the process because those elders are not idiots. They are people who have suffered. They are people who have been insulted through history, and they know what running around the block is about. And I think it is a very important note to be taken of the positive input those elders can bring into the process," he said.
Hanekom said statements from President Mbeki and South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party have shown rifts within the party's rank and file.
"The bone of contention in this case is that the African National Congress, the governing party in South Africa, is divided between two factions in a basic process. And I think within the two factions, we will find, like in Zimbabwe, MDC and ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe's ruling party), we will find smaller factions. But in South Africa, we have the situation that we have the African National Congress with Jacob Zuma as the leader of the party's faction, and we have Thabo Mbeki as the leader of the governing section, in conflict with one another. And that bodes evil for both South Africa itself, as well as the negotiation process, the mediation process in Zimbabwe," Hanekom noted.