South African President Jacob Zuma has dumped his country’s traditional “quiet diplomacy” and is instead going for full “confrontation” with President Robert Mugabe to force free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, a cabinet source has said.

Ebrahim Ebrahim, the South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation said Zuma, who was mandated by Sadc to mediate and ensure credible polls in Zimbabwe, was taking a hard-line stance because regional leaders could no longer stomach Harare’s status quo.

He was speaking to South African newspaper, The Sunday Independent at the weekend. The sensational claims confirm the view that Zuma, the SADC-appointed facilitator to the Zimbabwe crisis wants a quick solution to the ongoing wrangling in government.

“There has been notable difference but it is true that… even as president of ANC, President Zuma began to take a harder line on Zimbabwe and he continued as president of the country to do so.”

“South Africa has been given the responsibility of taking the situation in hand. Now it is open… I will not say condemnation but confrontation. President Zuma is prepared to have open confrontation with Mugabe,” said Ebrahim.

Ebrahim is a senior political and economic advisor to Zuma and sits on the powerful ANC National Executive Committee.

He has also chaired the parliamentary foreign Zuma threatens Mugabe affairs committee. ANC’s top brass partly decides the country’s foreign policy.

His statements to the Sunday Independent this week are significant as they highlight how South Africa and SADC have shifted policy on Zimbabwe since former mediator and Zuma’s predecessor Thabo Mbeki was booted out in 2008.

Mbeki was seen by many observers as ineffective because of his closeness to and bias towards Mugabe.

The statements also show how the SADC summit set for Angola mid-next month could be explosive as regional leaders battle Mugabe’s intransigence. Mugabe is likely to continue pushing for elections this year as demanded by his party.

Welshman Ncube, leader of the breakaway MDC formation, told a public meeting last week that SADC leaders had threatened to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe should Mugabe proceed with a unilateral call for elections this year.

South Africa has largely followed a policy of quiet diplomacy, which started during Mbeki’s tenure, on dealing with the Zimbabwean crisis. However under Zuma, the country has gradually shifted its approach with Zuma taking a measured but firm approach to the crisis.

The shift was first noticed at the Zambia SADC Troika Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation meeting in Livingstone, Zambia end of March this year.

Zuma presented a scathing report which rebuked Mugabe for refusing to implement the GPA at the meeting, a position endorsed by his regional peers.

Zuma warned that Zimbabwe risked international intervention if the political crisis in the country continued.

This stance was reinforced at the last SADC summit in Johannesburg where, according to media reports, Zuma and Mugabe openly clashed.

Ebrahim said Zuma believed Zimbabwe’s prolonged crisis was draining SADC and the only possible way of bringing it to an end was by confronting a belligerent Mugabe to force him to play by the power sharing agreement he signed with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008.

SADC was also losing patience hence the tough stance, Ebrahim said.

“The difference now is that SADC and our president are saying (to Mugabe) this status cannot continue, you have to implement your own agreement and accept free and fair elections under the new constitution,” said Ebrahim, adding that although the country’s three political parties agreed to an agreement under Mbeki, “Mugabe is saying they can have elections under the old Lancaster House constitution.”

Mugabe has threatened to call for elections regardless of whether the country’s new constitution has been completed.

A new constitution is a pre-condition for polls in Zimbabwe’s as agreed in the power sharing agreement.

Zuma has openly criticised Mugabe before.

During his tenure as ANC president in 2008 before he took over the position of the presidency of Africa’s biggest economy, he described the disputed and violent June 2008 elections as “suspicious.”

“We cannot agree with ZANU PF. We cannot agree with them on values. We fought for the right of people to vote, we fought for democracy,” Zuma said at an ANC dinner in July 2008. He rebuked Mugabe for refusing to step down after losing the March 2008 election to Tsvangirai.

In December 2007, Zuma had also criticised Mbeki for his soft approach on Zimbabwe.

“It is even more tragic that other world leaders who witness repression pretend it is not happening, or is exaggerated. When history eventually deals with the dictators, those who stood by and watched should also bear the consequences. A shameful quality of the modern world is to turn away from injustice and ignore the hardships of others,” said Zuma at the time.

ANC is historically a natural ally of ZANU PF but has recently been critical of its erstwhile ally because of the pressure from its ANC Youth League, South African Communist Party and Congress of Southern African Trade Unions allies.

It is from these organisations that Zuma derives much of his support. Zuma met UK Prime Minister David Cameroon met on Monday at his Union Building in Pretoria where the two discussed the Libyan and Zimbabwean crisis.

Zuma expressed happiness with the progress in Zimbabwe while Cameroon said he was willing to look into the issue of sanctions but would only do so if agreed reforms were implemented.

Meanwhile, ZANU PF says the 87-year-old leader will table the sanctions issue at the Angola SADC summit.

The party’s spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said 2,2 million Zimbabweans had signed a petition to be tabled at the meeting and presented at other international forums such as the AU and UN meetings.

It could not be established how ZANU PF hopes to do it given that the issue of sanctions is already being dealt with by SADC.


Zimbabwe’s three main political parties can’t agree on changes to the security forces or the composition of an independent commission to oversee elections, the Herald reported, citing minutes from a meeting held this week.

The parties also failed to agree on outstanding issues such as “state-sponsored violence” and the deployment of soldiers in Zimbabwe’s rural areas, the Harare-based state-controlled newspaper said on its website.

President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front refused a Movement for Democratic Change demand that foreign election monitors be deployed for six months before and after the election, the Herald said.

The parties, in talks on conditions that must be in place for elections to be held, agreed that Mugabe can’t announce an election date before consulting Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC and prime minister in the country’s power-sharing government, it said.


Negotiators to the Global Political Agreement were scheduled to meet in Harare last night to put time frames to the election roadmap which will be crucial in deciding when the country holds elections.

The meeting is in line with recommendations of the Sadc summit held in Sandton, South Africa, on June 12, which tasked partners in the inclusive government to come up with time frames before the next Sadc summit in Angola in August. The meeting came at a time when virtually all the parties had engaged in in-house consultations to come up with positions.

“The process involves getting in touch with key personnel in bodies such as Copac to find out, for example, when they project that the constitution-making exercise would be completed.

This will then assist us in coming up with a position as a party,” said a senior government official.

“But, of course, you will find that the negotiators themselves may also get in touch with bodies such as ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) so that they come up with realistic time frames. At the end of the day however, the time frames will have to be negotiated, and there will be need for a consensus, in the same manner the roadmap itself was crafted.”

The negotiators have agreed on most important things on the election roadmap although there are still some sticking points, especially to do with security sector reforms.

Zanu PF has resisted reforms to the security sector which the MDC parties accuse of being partisan and solely serving the interests of Zanu PF. MDC-T chief negotiator Tendai Biti on Wednesday told a residents’ meeting in Kuwadzana that his party would continue to push for the reforms arguing that the police, army, intelligence and prison services were acting as an appendage of Zanu PF.

The negotiators have agreed to have elections after the completion of the constitution-making exercise, and the implementation of agreed electoral and media reforms, among other issues.


The two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions are engaged in informal reunification talks following their 2005 acrimonious split, David Coltart, the legal secretary of group led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has said.

Coltart, who emphasised that he was speaking in his personal capacity, told participants at a lecture series organised by the Students Solidarity Trust (SST) that he regretted the split and the two factions’ failure to form an electoral pact ahead of the 2008 elections.

A fortnight ago, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai – who leads the other faction — said he was not opposed to calls for the two factions to reunite ahead of elections expected next year.

The MDC split into two following differences over the party’s participation in Senate elections. Tsvangirai said the Senate was a waste of tax-payer dollars, while the MDC party in Matabeleland where the party had the highest concentration of parliamentary seats felt having ZANU PF Senators working in MDC-controlled constituencies would disrupt the party’s programmes.

Tsvangirai’s deputy Gibson Sibanda, now late, and secretary general Welshman Ncube led the break-away.

Coltart, who stuck with his colleagues from Matabeleland, said strong leadership would be needed if the two groups were to reconcile after 2008 talks aimed at re-unification collapsed.

He said a united front was necessary to help complete Zimbabwe’s transition to democracy.


The Zimbabwe political parties in the inclusive government has failed to agree on the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) according to a report on the interparty talks that was received by the mediator, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.

Lindiwe Zulu, Zuma’s International Affairs adviser told Radio VOP on Wednesday night that a report was going to be presented to Zuma.

“We are going to receive the report tomorrow from the Zimbabwean negotiators and we take a few days interrogating it before making a decision on how to engage further with the process,” Zulu told Radio VOP, Wednesday night.

“Thereafter we will present it to President Zuma.”

Zulu is part of a three-member team appointed by Zuma to oversee the Zimbabwe talks late last year. The team is also made up of anti-apartheid hero Marc Maharaj and former cabinet minister Charles Nqakula.

The report, which comes almost 10 days late, now awaits Zuma’s action and recommendations from the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The SABC reported that the report noted that the parties, Zanu PF and the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations had failed to agree on outstanding issues.

However, analysts remained pessimistic of an immediate solution and were calling for the creation of an even playing field for fresh elections, the SABC reported.

Sources told the SABC that the consolidated report was now in South Africa and after Zuma has seen it, the document will be forwarded to Mozambican president Armando Guebuza, as SADC chairman on defence politics and security.

Zimbabwean analysts said the perpetual stalemate was in Zanu-PF’s favour.

Failure by the parties to find common ground has all but watered down President Zuma’s statement last month that the parties had agreed on measures.

The two old times foes, President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who formed a unity government last year in February after signing a historic agreement in September 2008, are haggling over how to democratise Zimbabwe and introduce reforms to introduce a new political regime in the southern African country.

The tension within the coalition government appeared to have been made worse by ANC’s Youth Leader Julius Malema’s visit over the easter weekend which was largely viewed by the MDC as an open show of sympathy with Zanu PF. Malema who refused to meet the MDC, kept on emhasising that it was a party to party visit with nothing to do with the on-going talks.

Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe and his Zanu PF party of frustrating efforts to introduce the much needed reforms. One of the accusations centres around the veteran leader’s refusal to undo the unilateral appointment of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomanna. Gono stands accused of presiding over the destruction of the country’s economy through a slew of quasi-fiscal activities as well as funding activities infringing upon people’s human rights while the Tomana is accused of using his office to persecute opposition supporters and human rights activists. Apart from this the MDC also wants the appointment of its officials as provincial governors expedited together with that of its Deputy Agriculture Minister designate, Roy Bennett.

On his part Mugabe wants the MDC to engage on a public call for the removal of targetted sanctions imposed on him and members of his inner circle by western country. In addition he also wants MDC to cause the closure of so-called pirate radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe from abroad.


South African President Jacob Zuma Wednesday began talks with Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, amid growing pressure for the country to move toward new elections.

“The principals are meeting this morning,” Patrick Chinamasa, the chief negotiator for Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party told AFP.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a unity government in February last year under stiff international pressure, aiming to end an economic freefall and curb deadly political violence after disputed presidential elections in 2008.

They have deadlocked over a slate of key appointments, including the central bank governor and the attorney general, while Tsvangirai complains that his supporters remain the target of official persecution.

But pressure has been growing for the parties to shelve their differences and focus on drafting a new constitution, which is meant to pave the way toward fresh elections.

Under the power-sharing deal, Zimbabwe was meant to draft a new charter and put it to a referendum by November 2010, paving the way to new elections by February 2011.

Both sides have already begun positioning themselves for the polls, with 86-year-old Mugabe – in power since independence from Britain in 1980 – saying that he is prepared to run again.

Tsvangirai has called for international peacekeepers to supervise the polls to prevent a return of the bloodshed that marred the 2008 presidential race.


Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has called for South Africa’s intervention to help strengthen the country’s fragile accord plagued by power struggles.

The call came amid reports that South African President Jacob Zuma was set to visit the country on Tuesday to assess the state of a power-sharing agreement set up to end a decade-long political and economic crisis.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa , told News24 that his party hoped Zuma would unlock the deadlock between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations.

“We’ve just received information through the media reports that President Jacob Zuma is coming and we hope that he will unlock the deadlock. We’ve had a deadlock in the implementation of agreements in the GPA (Global Political Agreement) and we hope that these issues are going to be dealt with and make sure that the government is saved from danger,” Chamisa said.

He said the people of Zimbabwe were tired of the “delaying tactics used by Zanu-PF to buy time so as to de-energise the nation. Unfortunately our guarantors are also becoming victims of these strategies”.

Chamisa said it was unfortunate that Zanu-PF was “falsely” telling the world that sanctions were the problems rattling the country’s government of national unity.

“Let’s implement the agreements in the GPA and the rest will follow. The hope is to be able to enhance the credibility of this government and prepare for non-violent elections,” Chamisa said.

President Zuma is expected to hold a meeting with the three principals in the global political agreement – President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara. Reports say that Zuma’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya, indicated that Zuma will meet the principals individually and as a group.

Zuma’s visit comes a few weeks after his trip to the United Kingdom, where he reportedly called for international support for Zimbabwe’s troubled coalition.

The MDC has already declared a deadlock on all the outstanding GPA issues and wants them referred back to Zuma.

On the other hand, President Mugabe and his Zanu-PF say the talks should be given time, but have also taken a rigid position not to compromise on anything that is against the resolutions of their December 2009 congress.

The South African leader has made it clear that he wants the parties to “park” the contentious issues around key government appointments, sanctions imposed by western countries, and of late, the stripping of powers of MDC ministers.


Political turmoil is likely to fester for months to come, stunting investment, prolonging an aid freeze and wilting green shoots of economic recovery that were sprouting.

A broad-based solution to the 11-month long crisis looks increasingly unlikely in the near future after President Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) seems intent on rolling into action the December 2009 congress resolutions to trash the global political agreement and staunchly refuse to implement terms of a power-sharing deal.

A political commentator, Ronald Shumba said the balance of power was in Mugabe’s favour, and he appeared to be in no hurry to negotiate.

“It’s not a question of Maputo failing. It is just part of a long bargaining process,” Shumba said this week.

“Mugabe doesn’t need to give too much too quickly with the army behind him. They will just offer token gestures.”

Prior to the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting in Maputo, Mugabe showed signs of seeing reason to implement fully the power-sharing pact. But by the time of his December congress, the deeply troubled leader was on his old turf, saying a vehement no to any resolution of the outstanding issues with his arch-opponents.

“Zanu (PF), as the party of revolution and the people’s vanguard, shall not allow the security forces of Zimbabwe to be the subject of any negotiation for a so called ‘security sector reform’ that is based on patent misrepresentations of Zimbabwe’s heroic history and for the mere purpose of weakening the state so that it can be easily overthrown,” said one of the Zanu (PF) congress resolutions.

Significantly, the party resolved to “extricate itself” from its liaison with the MDC which it branded “ideologically incompatible” so as to “retain its mantle as the only dominant and ascendant political party that is truly representative and determined to safeguard the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe.”

Southern African nations have been accused of being too soft on Mugabe and his party and has dismally failed to ensure implementation of a pact which the regional bloc brokered.

The negotiators are not due to meet again until mid-January.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s MDC party has slammed the continued hold up in fully implementing the pact.

“As MDC we are expecting the negotiating team to meet and finalise on the unfinished business of implementing the outstanding issues,” MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said. “Our wish is to have the matter concluded as soon as possible so that we can start focusing on the bread and butter issues that are affecting the people of Zimbabwe.”

Chamisa said he hoped outstanding issues had to be referred to SADC for arbitration “so that we move ahead with the business of the inclusive government.”

The fast economic turnaround ushered in by the use of multiple foreign currencies and the abandonment of the inflation-prone Zimbabwe dollar has benefited all citizens: more and more people in rural areas have shrugged off poverty; urban residents are becoming better off.

But analysts are warning that failure to implement the pact fully could see the country sliding back to instability.

More than 70 percent of the budget is donor funded. Several major donors including the International Monetary Fund, the United States and European Union have frozen aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars in development finance, and are demanding full implementation of the power-sharing pact before they bankroll the administration.
Others believe the popular MDC leader will simply hope to limp through to the next presidential election, which is scheduled for next year under the terms of the power-sharing deal.

“Morgan will be thinking he’s just got to get through this, hold elections and count on people to have him form an exclusive MDC government,” said one diplomatic source.

There are understood to be efforts afoot to unite the two MDC formations before elections to form a powerful front against Mugabe.


Zimbabwe‘s political rivals have agreed some outstanding issues of a power-sharing deal, but the pace of negotiations is slow, a South African official mediating in the talks said on Tuesday.

President Robert Mugabe and long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, formed a unity government last year in February after disputed elections, but the coalition has been hobbled by disputes over power-sharing.

Lindiwe Zulu, international relations advisor to South African President Jacob Zuma, said while South Africa was not happy with the pace of talks, there was progress on some issues.

“I don’t think that we should be talking of escalating conflict at this point in time. We are not saying that we are happy with the speed at which they are working but we think there are a number of things they’ve agreed upon,” Sisulu told South African Talk Radio 702.

South Africa is mediating in the Zimbabwe negotiations and Zimbabwean media reports say Africa‘s biggest economy wants all outstanding issues resolved before it hosts the soccer World Cup in June.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in October “disengaged” from cabinet meetings with Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, accusing it of being an “unreliable partner” but rejoined after mediation by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are haggling over the appointment of provincial governors and the veteran leader’s refusal to swear in Tsvangirai ally Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture minister.

The 85-year-old president has also refused to sack allies he appointed as central bank governor and attorney general without consulting Tsvangirai.

Mugabe says the MDC should call off Western sanctions against his party and ask its backers in the West to shut down what he calls pirate radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe from the United States and Britain.


Talks to break Zimbabwe’s protracted political deadlock appear to head for a stalemate after President Robert Mugabe vowed Saturday never to give in to demands by his coalition partners on power-sharing.

Addressing about 10,000 loyalists at the close of the national congress of his ZANU PF party on Saturday night, Mugabe said he would not make any concessions during talks with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to break a power-sharing deadlock on outstanding issues from an agreement they signed 15 months ago.

“No tactic, no pressure will make us change our position,” said a defiant Mugabe, citing a resolution by delegates to his party’s congress.

Mugabe has refused to swear in Tsvangirai’s ally Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture minister, saying he must first be cleared of terrorism charges.

The MDC, however, says the terrorism charges are false and politically motivated to prevent Bennett – a white farmer – from taking up his job in the new government.

The former opposition party also accuses Mugabe of breaching the power-sharing agreement by appointing his allies to head the central bank and the Attorney General’s office without consulting his coalition partners.

Mugabe said ZANU PF would only consider giving in to the MDC’s demands once Tsvangirai’s party honoured its own pledges to seek the lifting of travel bans imposed by the West on senior ZANU PF officials as well as the closure of “pirate” radio stations broadcasting from Europe and some neighbouring countries.

Mugabe and more than 200 of its supporters are barred from travelling to and owning assets in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United States under targeted sanctions imposed in 2002 in retaliation to what the West said were human rights abuses by his regime.


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