Mbeki backs coalition

Johannesburg,- Former South African President and the man who brokered a solution to Zimbabwe’s long drawn political crisis, Thabo Mbeki, said the Global Political Agreement (GPA) still remained the most viable route to end the country's political crisis.\r\n

Mbeki who shuttled between Johannesburg and Harare many times until the GPA was signed in September 2008, said he believed there was no other way out except the GPA.

The GPA was signed by the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions and President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party. Mugabe was elected President unopposed in 2008 in a re-run of the Presidential election which the main MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai had decided to pull out citing violence.

Mbeki told South African newspapers following the launch of his Thabo Mbeki Foundation and the Thabo Mbeki Africa Leadership Institute that if the country’s political parties stick to the GPA, Zimbabwe will soon find a lasting peace and stability.

“I would hope people are faithfully implementing what was contained in the GPA. And really what was contained in it was that they would put in place various measures which would help overcome the causes of conflict that had taken place in Zimbabwe and create a basis for national reconciliation."

Mbeki, who now leads a group of eminent Africa leaders and trying to chart a peaceful solution to the long drawn political crisis in Sudan, has been vilified for pursuing a quiet diplomacy towards President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe has however said he does not wish to see the life of the inclusive government extended when it expires in four months time and he wants elections held in 2011.

Mbeki said this as the MDC party led by Tsvangirai met at the weekend in Johannesburg to strategise on the best way forward following the stalled constitution making process due to violence.

The constitution making process is supposed to culminate in a referendum next year before elections.

Sources in the MDC party confirmed to Radio VOP that a retreat had been held on Friday and Saturday evening in Johannesburg.

“We met to strategise in view of the prevailing political discourse. The meeting was attended by members of the party’s standing committee,” said the source.

The source said the meeting also discussed the GPA that was never fully implemented since it was signed due to disagreements mainly about the swearing in of MDC treasurer general, Roy Bennett, as deputy minister of Agriculture and the appointment of a new Reserve Bank Governor and the Attorney General.

The MDC meeting came amid reports of disagreements within the party on the next course of action following the chaotic manner in which the constitution process had been handled.

One group within the party wanted the constitution process abandoned while the other preferred completion of the process or a negotiated outcome.

There were fears that the outcome of the current constitution process would finally reflect the views of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party because many people did not manage to freely give their views due to intimidation and the bussing of people.

The process remained suspended in the capital Harare and its dormitory town, Chitungwiza, due to violence.

The MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa said: “I am not sure if such a meeting took place.”

However highly placed sources said the strategy meeting was aimed at charting a new political strategy for the party hence the secrecy to the media.

Tsvangirai and his deputy Thokozani Khupe last week boycotted a cabinet meeting in protest to President Mugabe’s unilateral re-appointment of provincial governors without consultation as agreed under the GPA.

Tsvangirai has been under fire from some of his supporters for not flexing his muscle against Mugabe.