Presidency moves to contain Zim fall-out

2013-07-22 00:00

THE Presidency moved quickly yesterday to contain any diplomatic fall-out between South Africa and Zimbabwe following the publication of statements allegedly made by a member of President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team.

It was reported yesterday that his foreign policy adviser Lindiwe Zulu had expressed concern about Zimbabwe’s readiness for elections. “We are concerned because things on the ground are not looking good,” she was reported to have said.

Zulu’s alleged comments are likely to infuriate Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who labelled her “stupid and idiotic” at a rally this month after she called for a delay of a few weeks to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.

In a statement, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the Presidency had “noted with great concern, recent unfortunate statements made on the situation in Zimbabwe, which have been attributed to a member of the technical team supporting the facilitator, President Jacob Zuma”.

He said they had not received any complaints from Zimbabwe.

Asked whether the statements in question referred to those allegedly made by Zulu, he said they included them.

“Only the facilitator [president Zuma] has the right to speak on behalf of SADC,” Maharaj told The Witness.

The Presidency said the reports that Zuma had telephoned Mugabe to express his unhappiness about preparations were incorrect.

Maharaj said the statements were a side issue and should not distract from the important issue. “The main issue here is the Zimbabwe elections; we hope that everyone will have their eye now trained on those elections where the Zimbabweans will have a free and fair election.”

He said they were not expecting any diplomatic fall-out over the statements, and no one would face disciplinary action.

Maharaj said South Africa remains fully committed to its “warm historical relations” with Zimbabwe and wishes the people of Zimbabwe well as they prepare for the elections.

“The historical relations between the two countries will continue to be warm and friendly as before.”

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