News24

'Deviance' on the agenda

2009-08-26 20:35

Johannesburg - South African President Jacob Zuma will discuss what he sees as "deviant behaviour" in Zimbabwe, when he visits Harare this week for talks on the power-sharing government, his party said on Wednesday.

Gwede Mantashe, secretary general of Zuma's African National Congress (ANC), said the President would be vocal about problems in Zimbabwe, a reversal of the quiet diplomacy practiced by former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

"President Zuma will be more vocal in terms of what we see as deviant behaviour," Mantashe told journalists. "If there is deviant behaviour, we will be more vocal... but we will still engage."

Mantashe said such "deviant behaviour" included the conduct of last year's presidential run-off amid widespread political violence and the continuing harassment of lawmakers from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

'Crisis reversed'

Tsvangirai joined long-ruling President Robert Mugabe in a unity government in February, meant to haul the nation from political turmoil and economic collapse.

South Africa is a key backer of the unity deal, and Zuma is currently the head of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the regional bloc that brokered the pact.

"What we want to see in Zimbabwe as the ANC, is to see what in our view is an economic and humanitarian crisis reversed," Mantashe said.

Zuma is set to visit Harare on Thursday and Friday, where his office said he will meet with leaders of both MDC factions and Mugabe's Zanu-PF to discuss the implementation of the power-sharing accord.

Austin Moyo, who heads the overseas operations of Tsvangirai's party, urged Zuma "to unambiguously denounce Zanu-PF blockage" of the power-sharing deal.

"We have confidence in Comrade Zuma. He is an action man, compared to his predecessor Mbeki," Moyo told AFP.

Key power broker

Moyo on Wednesday delivered a petition to the ANC, urging Zuma to focus specifically on Mugabe's unilateral re-appointment of the controversial reserve bank governor Gideon Gono, who oversaw the collapse of the local currency during his first five-year term.

The MDC also disputes Mugabe's decision to re-appoint attorney general Johannes Tomana, whose office continues to prosecute Tsvangirai supporters and rights activists, despite guarantees of political freedom under the unity deal.

Zuma will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and the minister to the presidency Collins Chabane, a key power-broker in his government.

As Zimbabwe's biggest trading partner in the region, South Africa is also pushing for an investment pact that has hit the rocks over Harare's refusal to provide guarantees that its government would respect any land investments.

In April, a South African business delegation visited the country and met with Mugabe and other top officials, but they left expressing concerns about the security of any investments.

SAPA