Mbeki must go – MDC

HARARE – The Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) no longer wants former president Thabo Mbeki as a mediator in that country's political woes, saying he has been ineffective and has misrepresented the problems stalling the power-sharing negotiations between it and Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

"This is why we are calling on the SADC (Southern African Development Community) summit… you need somebody else to mediate," said MDC vice-president Thokozani Khupe in Durban on Saturday.

She told The Mercury that the SADC summit wrongly believed that the only unresolved issue preventing the formation of a government of national unity was the fight over the home affairs ministry.

However, there were several other unresolved issues, like the equitable distribution of ministries, the issue of governors, ambassadors and permanent secretaries, legislating the national security council, and constitutional amendment 19, which was needed to give effect to the power-sharing agreement.

The party also wants a transitional authority, which would lead to another election, and control of five of the10 ministries.

"Unless these issues are resolved, we can’t move forward," said Khupe, who delivered the Harold Wolpe memorial lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Civil Society at the weekend.

Speaking to The Mercury on the sidelines of the gathering, she said the MDC had already told SADC that it no longer wanted Mbeki as mediator, but the issue still had to be taken up with the African Union.

She said negotiators from both parties were expected to meet in Johannesburg today to resolve outstanding issues.

The fiery Khupe said it was clear that Mugabe was not committed to finding a solution to the crises in Zimbabwe and lashed out at SADC leaders for not putting pressure on him.

"The leaders are putting pressure on the wrong person. They are putting pressure on (MDC leader) Morgan Tsvangirai. South Africa is supposed to put pressure on Mugabe. They must say right to his face: ‘Mugabe, you lost this election. Tsvangirai won the election. You must make sure that this deal is consummated.’"

At least 1 000 Zimbabweans and South Africans turned out to listen to Khupe passionately speaking about the problems in her country.

Many of the Zimbabwean’s wore T-shirts saying, "Drive out the filth. Drive out the dictator, Mugabe must go", while posters declared: "Mugabe for war, Tsvangirai for rebuilding."

However, the most common poster was: "Mugabe for dirty toilet."

Tsvangirai did not make it to Durban because he had a meeting with three global leaders, who form part of a group known as "The Elders", in Johannesburg.

The three – former South African first lady Graca Machel, former US president Jimmy Carter and ex-United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan – were to go on a humanitarian fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe on Saturday, but were not granted visas by Mugabe’s government.

Khupe said Zimbabwe should be open to all so that the world could see the devastation in her country.

She said Zimbabweans were dying owing to lack of sanitation and health-care services, and were eating poisonous roots and dogs to survive.

According to Khupe, children have not been writing exams and most, especially at tertiary level, had lost out on an entire year.

She said teachers were now earning a pittance.

"We want ‘the breadbasket of Africa’ (a name given to Zimbabwe for its former agricultural output) back again," she said.

However, Khupe praised the South African government for putting on hold at least R300-million in humanitarian aid, saying that Zimbabwe did not have a government and that previous aid destined for the people had gone to Mugabe.

She said: "Our policy is that we are going to remove the dictator through democratic and constitutional means."

Khupe said despite the efforts being made and the MDC being "magnanimous" and entering into a power-sharing agreement, Mugabe was not committed to the process.

"Morgan is the prime minister and the leader of the winning party in Zimbabwe, but he has no passport. This is somebody who is supposed to go into partnership with Mugabe… he can’t entrust him with his own passport so how can he entrust him with the keys to run the state?

"We want all Zimbabweans in South Africa to cross the Beit Bridge border post and tell Mugabe to go," she said. SOURCE: IOL