FORMER South African President Thabo Mbeki held talks with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa in Harare yesterday amid speculation that he had come to initiate talks between Zanu PF and MDC to resolve the deepening socio-economic crisis in the country.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA/MOSES MATENGA
After the meeting, Mbeki said he was happy with what Mnangagwa was doing to resolve the country’s crisis.
“I am very glad with what the President of the country is doing to respond to the challenges and I think it is very important that the (Sadc) region comes behind the President and the country because the challenges of the country are our challenges,” he said.
“As you know, we all of us have a responsibility to help one another, to the extent that if there is anything we can do to the President and the government and the country, we would want to do that.”
Zimbabwe is experiencing a grave economic crisis for the second time in a decade, triggered by the controversial 2018 elections won by Mnangagwa following a court challenge.
Mnangagwa is suffering a legitimacy crisis after Chamisa refused to accept the result.
The Zanu PF leader failed to bring Chamisa to the negotiating table through the Political Actors Dialogue, which brings together all presidential candidates in last year’s polls.
Chamisa has been pushing for foreign mediation, but Zanu PF had insisted on local mediation led by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.
But Mbeki yesterday, after being asked what his message was to opposition parties in the region that reject poll outcomes, said aggrieved parties should respect the will of the people.
“Well normally, we all say, we must all of us respect the view of the people. People have got queries, they must go to the courts. Once the court makes the ruling, we all have to respect that,” he said.
Mnangagwa and Mbeki’s meeting came after churches met South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week and expressed concern over the deteriorating socio-economic situation in the country.
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches pleaded with Ramaphosa to assist in finding a lasting solution to Zimbabwe.
Mbeki in 2008 led a Sadc process that consummated a unity government between former President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai (both now late) after the country was plunged into a crisis following the 2008 bloody presidential run-off.
But the MDC has been accusing him of negotiating the deal in bad faith to give Mugabe an advantage.
Sources confirmed the meeting between Chamisa and Mbeki that reportedly went for hours, but details were still sketchy last night.
It emerged that Mbeki sought to break the impasse between Chamisa and Mnangagwa, who have not met since the July 31 elections last year.
The sources said Mbeki wanted to understand the crisis in the country and how to have Zimbabweans work together.