South African mediators meet Mugabe on Zimbabwe crisis

2009-12-01 11:08

A NEW team of South African mediators has held its first talks with

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in a fresh bid to ease tensions within the

strained unity government, state media reported today.

“President Robert Mugabe yesterday met the visiting South African

mediation team,” the Herald newspaper reported.

The mediators, including South African President Jacob Zuma’s

foreign policy adviser Lindiwe Zulu, met with Mugabe at his State House offices,

the paper said.

Zuma named the new team last week to take over the regional

mediation role previously held by former South African president Thabo Mbeki,

who brokered the power-sharing deal signed last year that created the unity

government.

Mbeki, however, had faced widespread criticism over his “quiet

diplomacy” which critics said was too soft on 85-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled

since independence in 1980.

The team also met with negotiators from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party as

well as rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change,

the Herald said.

The unity government created in February has been plagued by a raft

of disputes that led Tsvangirai to boycott cabinet for three weeks in

October.


Regional leaders in the Southern African Development Community

ended the standoff at a special summit in Mozambique, tasking Zuma with helping

the parties resolve their differences.


Among the issues contested by the rival parties are the appointment

of the central bank governor and the attorney general, as well as the naming of

provincial governors and removal of a Western travel ban and asset freeze on

Mugabe and his inner circle.

 

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