Mandela slams ‘tragic failure of leadership’ in Zim

2008-06-25 00:00

HARARE — Former president Nelson Mandela criticised Zimbabwe’s leaders last night.

In a speech at a dinner in London, he said there is a “tragic failure of leadership” in Zimbabwe.

Earlier, Zimbabwe’s neighbours urged the postponement of tomorrow’s election, saying the re-election of President Robert Mugabe could lack legitimacy in the current violent climate.

The call by a security troika of Southern African nations put the heaviest pressure yet on Mugabe.

South Africa added to the pressure, saying a top negotiator is in Harare mediating talks on options including postponement of the vote.

But Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission ruled that Morgan Tsvangirai’s withdrawal from the poll came too late and the poll will go ahead.

Tsvangirai said the vote is a sham and called for the African Union, backed by the United Nations, to lead a transition in Zimbabwe.

He said that while he is prepared to negotiate with Mugabe’s Zanu-PF before tomorrow, the MDC will “not have anything to do” with a government that emerges from the vote.

A security troika of the Southern African Development Community comprising Tanzania, Swaziland and Angola urged talks between the government and the Movement for Democratic Change before a new date is set for the run-off vote.

Tsvangirai spoke at a press conference at his home, but afterwards returned to the Dutch embassy.

He told reporters: “I am asking the AU and SADC to lead an expanded initiative supported by the UN to manage what I will call a transitional process.” He said the election will not be accepted by Zimbabweans or the world.

SA spokesman Themba Maseko told Reuters: “The facilitation talks … are looking at all aspects that will bring a possible settlement … all options are being considered … [including] the possibility of a postponement.” Sydney Mufamadi is in Harare talking both to the government and opposition.

An SA Foreign Affairs spokesman said around 300 Zimbabweans sought refuge at their embassy yesterday.

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