South Africa worried about Zimbabwe stalemate

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South Africa’s official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) Sunday called on President Thabo Mbeki to urgently consider requesting that the African Union’s Peace and Security Council should intervene in Zimbabwe either by deploying monitors or a peace-keeping force.

The DA said Mbeki was well placed to make this call since, apart from being mandated by the South African development Commission (SADC) to head ongoing mediation efforts in Zimbabwe, South Africa was also currently the rotational Chair of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and is therefore duty bound to take action to avert a potential humanitarian disaster in the country.

The rotational chairmanship of the UNSC will also ensure that South Africa can lobby the Security Council to provide the necessary logistical and other supports to make a mission of this kind a success.

It said such intervention would further be in line with similar calls from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who have officially requested international intervention to avoid a repeat of the brutal crackdown on opposition supporters that occurred when Mugabe’s power was first seriously challenged when he lost a constitutional referendum in 2000.

“As the MDC has pointed out, it would be irresponsible for the international community, including South Africa, to wait for the situation to deteriorate further, because by then any action taken could prove too late for thousands of opposition supporters who might become victims of state-sponsored violence,” said DA spokesman Lindiwe Mazibuko.

She said reports from Zimbabwe indicate that the situation was far from the “manageable” one that President Mbeki claimed it was when he addressed reporters in London this weekend.

Mazibuko said “The arrest of foreign journalists, the raiding of MDC offices and

the use of ZANU-PF militias to physically prevent lawyers from lodging an urgent interdict and force the ZEC to release Presidential poll results bear all the hallmarks of a coordinated crackdown on any form of opposition, and of the Mugabe government wreaking revenge on the people of Zimbabwe for voting for change.

“It should not be forgotten that Robert Mugabe has proved over the last 28 years of his rule that he was capable of ordering the militias to carry out violent acts of revenge.

“The genocide in Matabeleland in the mid 1980’s against supposed ZAPU loyalists and the unprecedented Operation Murambatsvina have illustrated Mugabe’s capacity for extreme cruelty.”

Mazibuko said in order to avoid a repeat of the kind of instability recently seen in Kenya it is clear that President Mbeki has no choice but to act now.

“If he fails to do so, then history will judge him harshly.” Panapress.

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