Zuma put pres­sure on Mu­gabe in talks

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - STAN­LEY GAMA

PRES­I­DENT Ja­cob Zuma left Zim­babwe yes­ter­day af­ter re­port­edly putting real pres­sure on the three leaders of the frac­tious unity gov­ern­ment to sort out their prob­lems fast if they want to see the crip­pled coun­try re­cover.

Af­ter sev­eral hours of meet­ings with Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe, Prime Min­is­ter Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Arthur Mu­tam­bara, Zuma urged them pub­licly to speed up the process of im­ple­ment­ing the Global Po­lit­i­cal Agree­ment (GPA) they signed last Septem­ber to es­tab­lish the unity gov­ern­ment.

Speak­ing to a huge crowd at the Harare Agri­cul­tural Show which he opened, he said the Zim­bab­wean leaders had to im­ple­ment re­forms if they hoped to get the in­ter­na­tional as­sis­tance vi­tal for the econ­omy.

Zuma will now pre­pare his own re­port to be pre­sented and dis­cussed at the Souther n African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) sum­mit in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (DRC) in two weeks’ time.

It also emerges that Zuma wanted to meet the Zim­bab­wean leaders him­self be­fore the SADC meet­ing be­cause he did not want to rely solely on the re­port of SADC me­di­a­tor, for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki, as some see Mbeki as bi­ased to­wards Mu­gabe.

Zuma did not speak to the press be­fore his de­par­ture for Jo­han­nes­burg yes­ter­day, but he made clear his con­cerns about fail­ure to im­ple­ment the agree­ment while ad­dress­ing the crowd at the show ground.

“We are aware that some eco­nomic and de­vel­op­ment part­ners and donor coun­tries have put some bench­marks to be met be­fore they can ex­tend fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance and cur­rently only of­fer hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance.

“Since th­ese re­late to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the GPA, to which sig­na­to­ries re­main fully com­mit­ted, meet­ing bench­marks should be a pri­or­ity in the in­clu­sive gov­ern­ment. We ap­peal to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to re­move any re­main­ing hin­drances to Zim­babwe’s re­cov­ery, in­clud­ing sanc­tions.

“At the same time, we also em­pha­sise that the par­ties in Zim­babwe should work to­gether to re­move any re­main­ing ob­sta­cles … we dis­cussed the crit­i­cal is­sues re­lat­ing to the im­ple­men­ta­tion. The par­ties are in agree­ment on the need to speed up im­ple­men­ta­tion and to find so­lu­tions to the cur­rent points of dis­agree­ment,” said Zuma.

Zuma also en­cour­aged donors to pro­vide de­vel­op­men­tal aid for the gov­ern­ment to dis­charge its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, but stressed this can only be done if the GPA is fully im­ple­mented to cre­ate in­ter­na­tional con­fi­dence.

In a state­ment viewed as an in­di­rect at­tack on Mu­gabe, Zuma called on African leaders to pro­mote democ­racy, the re­spect for hu­man rights and the im­prove­ment of gov­er­nance.

Pri­vately Zuma was far tougher, ac­cord­ing to sources in the SA del­e­ga­tion. They said un­like Mbeki, Zuma’s ap­proach was forth­right and he re­port­edly put pres­sure on Mu­gabe.

“We did not come here to praise-sing or to favour any­one,” said a top Zuma aide.

“We came here to try and find a so­lu­tion to the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in Zim­babwe and Pres­i­dent Zuma made it clear to all the po­lit­i­cal leaders that he had not come to waste time de­bat­ing. He en­cour­aged the leaders to im­ple­ment what is in the agree­ment.

“The pres­i­dent’s speech was straight for­ward. The leaders have to re­form and dur­ing meet­ings he was frank with them … I think there is hope. Pres­i­dent Zuma be­lieves that the dif­fer­ences were nar­rowed af­ter meet­ing the leaders.”

Pic­ture: AP

TOUGH TALK: Zim­bab­wean Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe, left, smiles as he tours the Harare Agri­cul­ture Show with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma. The SA Pres­i­dent held talks with Mu­gabe and other leaders of Zim­babwe’s unity gov­ern­ment to try to end feud­ing be­tween the coali­tion part­ners.

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