By Farirai Machivenyika and Tendai Mugabe
Former South African President Mr Thabo Mbeki has expressed confidence in Zimbabwe’s capacity to resolve its challenges and reiterated his support for processes aimed at addressing issues of concern.
During his two-day stay, Mr Mbeki met President Mnangagwa, MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa, leaders of political parties involved in the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), the National Patriotic Front and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC).
Speaking to journalists before his departure yesterday, Mr Mbeki, who said he had come at the invitation of President Mnangagwa, promised to return in the next two weeks to continue his engagements with stakeholders that have requested to meet him.
“I have a lot of confidence in the leadership of this country, the collective leadership and coming together as they have done in the past,” he said.
“There is a lot of capacity, lots of capacity in the country to resolve all of these problems, all of these reforms that are needed whether it is political or economic, but we are listening, so we will come back later this month because people have left now to prepare for the Christmas holidays. We will come back and talk a bit more.”
Earlier on, Mr Mbeki had said he had come to meet President Mnangagwa and took the opportunity to interact with other political players in the country.
“I came here to see the President,” he said. “I hadn’t seen him since he became President. As I said (on Monday) but as you know, I know many people in Zimbabwe, I have got many friends here so a lot of other people wanted to see me.
“So, we have been talking to everybody and everybody, of course, is interested in discussing the situation . . . I am interested in the situation here; just to understand what is happening and to say basically that we support the efforts of Zimbabweans to address their fundamental challenges whatever the challenges are (and) that everybody gets together.
“So we have been listening to everybody and we haven’t finished that listening process, so we will come back again later this month to continue to finalise that. It’s really a listening thing because we want to give whatever support we can.”
Mr Mbeki said ordinary people wanted to see the country’s challenges addressed, adding that South Africa, as a neighbour, was willing to support that process.
“As I said, many people in Zimbabwe are saying the country needs to address many challenges — whether they are political reforms, economic and so on,” he said.
“We are neighbours and as I said, I have many friends in this country, I know many people and I think we should give all the necessary support.”
Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications) Mr George Charamba yesterday said Mr Mbeki was here to encourage dialogue as a friend of Zimbabwe.
“He is just encouraging dialogue as a concerned friend of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Whatever interaction that will happen between political parties will have to be national and within the context of POLAD.”
Government has already embarked on the political and reform process that has seen a number of pieces of legislation being passed in Parliament to address political and economic concerns raised by political parties, civil society and ordinary citizens.
Meanwhile, The Herald is reliably informed that after his meeting with Mr Mbeki, Mr Nelson Chamisa was agreeable to join broad-based negotiations.
“He has already created a negotiating team involving Messrs Tendai Biti, Douglas Mwonzora and one other, after the party’s standing committee meeting on Tuesday,” said a source.
“The team will participate in the working teams that were created under POLAD.”