Zuma, Mugabe at war

President Jacob Zuma and his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe, are headed for a showdown following the Zanu-PF leader's vow to "resist" renewed pressure by neighbouring states for reforms.

An angry Mugabe on Friday accused Zuma and other Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders of trying to interfere in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.

But he stopped short of calling for Zuma’s sacking as the SADC-appointed facilitator of the talks between Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe’s opposition parties.

On Friday Mugabe told a Zanu-PF central committee meeting in Harare: "The facilitator is the facilitator and must facilitate dialogue. (Zuma) cannot prescribe anything. We prescribe what we should do in accordance with our own laws and our agreement.

"The (opposition) MDC thinks SADC or the African Union can prescribe to us how we run our things."

The 87-year-old’s address came after SADC leaders issued the strongest statement to date on Mugabe’s 31-year rule, calling for an end to "violence, arrests and intimidation".

During the SADC summit in Livingstone, Zambia, this week, Zuma and other leaders cornered Mugabe over his refusal to implement sections of his political agreement with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The summit took place just days after Zuma held a private meeting with Tsvangirai at his Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, home.

A diplomat who attended the summit said SADC leaders had had enough of Mugabe’s antics and were demanding that he abide by their decisions.

"SADC is saying … ‘Enough is enough: there is a limit to (how many times) we can keep coming to meetings and taking decisions and those decisions are not implemented. We will end up looking foolish if these things are not being implemented," the diplomat said.

SADC plans to call an extraordinary session – on a date still to be decided – to discuss the Zimbabwe issue.

But if Mugabe’s comments at the Zanu-PF meeting are anything to go by, the region’s leaders will have their work cut out trying to get him to toe the line.

Mugabe vowed to resist pressure from fellow African leaders to resolve tensions in his power-sharing government with Tsvangirai.  

Yesterday, Zimbabwe’s government-owned Herald newspaper quoted Mugabe as saying: "We will not brook any dictation from any source. We are a sovereign country. Even our neighbours cannot dictate to us. We will resist that."

Zuma declined yesterday to comment on Mugabe’s statements.

But Lindiwe Zulu, a member Zuma’s facilitation team in Zimbabwe, said they would continue with their mission despite Mugabe’s criticism.

"We will not make any comments about statements that were made by any of the parties. We are just going to continue with our mandate which was given to us by SADC.

"We will continue to do everything we can to make sure that finally there is peace in Zimbabwe. We have an agenda … to make sure that none of the things that the three parties do hinders the progress … of the Global Political Agreement."

Zulu said that, as the facilitator, the South African president "will continue to engage with all of them as he was given a mandate by SADC".

Diplomats at the Livingstone summit said Mugabe had been shaken and angered by regional leaders blaming him for a resurgence of political repression and violence in Zimbabwe.

With signs that Mugabe is losing his grip on power and claims that the military is now running the country, the SADC Organ, or troika, on politics, defence and security, agreed to pressure the octogenarian to stop the arrest, intimidation and torture of opponents.

The Sunday Times believes that Mugabe was not given a chance to explain anything: instead, the SADC leaders virtually told him what had to be done to prevent an Egypt-style revolt. – Sunday Times