Zimbabwe tops Zuma talks with Brown

2010-03-04 10:00

SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma discussed Zimbabwe’s troubled

power sharing government with Prime Minister Gordon Brown today as his state

visit to Britain turned to thorny political issues.

Zuma went to Brown’s Downing Street office for breakfast talks,

with Zimbabwe expected to top the menu.

After the pomp of yesterday’s welcome and state banquet with Queen

Elizabeth II, the visit was to focus on trade and diplomatic relations between

the two Commonwealth countries.

Zuma and his latest wife, Thobeka Madiba Zuma, were greeted on the

steps of 10 Downing Street by Brown and his wife Sarah. Brown shared a joke with

the president’s wife as they posed for photographs.

Britain has been a fierce critic of Zimbabwean President Robert

Mugabe and his inner circle.

However, Zuma has repeated his call for international sanctions on

Mugabe and his coterie to be lifted, saying they were not helping the

beleaguered administration.

“If they could lift sanctions, that would give Zimbabwe an

opportunity to move forward,” the president said.

Other topics expected to shape discussions are trade, climate

change and a global non-proliferation conference in the United States.

Later today, Zuma was to address members of parliament and invited

guests at the Palace of Westminster.

And in a bid to boost sporting ties between the two countries, he

was also to visit the site of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Wembley Stadium,

the home of English football.

The venue, where England beat Egypt 3-1 on Tuesday night, will see

Zuma kick a symbolic penalty on the pitch.

South Africa is less than 100 days away from hosting the football

World Cup and Zuma will see presentations on England’s bid to host the 2018


The president and his wife were also to visit Lewisham Town Hall in

south London for talks on youth issues, and a supermarket in Greenwich billed as

the world’s first “green” supermarket.

The day was to finish with a banquet at the Guildhall in the City

of London, the financial heart of the British capital, thrown by the Lord Mayor

and Corporation of London.

Besides the glittering welcomes and political talks, controversy

has clouded Zuma’s visit after sections of the British press criticised Zuma

over his polygamy and a lovechild scandal.

The president hit back, accusing the papers of colonial


Zuma started his three-day trip yesterday in a burst of colour and

pageantry. He was greeted by Queen Elizabeth on London’s Horse Guards parade

ground before heading to Buckingham Palace in a horse-drawn carriage.

At the state banquet, attended by senior royals and political

leaders, the queen paid tribute to South Africa’s “extraordinary process of

liberation and democratic renewal”.

“The task was daunting in its scale and ambition but was achieved

through a deliberate and courageous effort of reconciliation and peaceful

resolution of differences,” she said.

Zuma acknowledged lingering problems in his country, saying: “We

still have a lot of work to do to create the type of society where all South

Africans live in prosperity, with access to basic quality services such as

health, education, housing, decent jobs and a host of others.”

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