Zuma meets Tsvangirai while Mugabe arrests ZEC officials

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South Africa’s African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma is desperate to mediate on the Zimbabwean political impasse.

from our correspondent in Harare

The meetings yesterday in Johannesburg, South Africa were aimed at ratcheting pressure on his electoral nemesis, Robert Mugabe, to release presidential election results immediately.

Tsvangirai flew to SA as a Zimbabwean High Court, for the fourth time refused to hear an MDC court application, seeking an order forcing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to immediately release presidential election results.

Justice Tendai Uchena said the case would be heard on Tuesday. MDC lawyer Alec uchadehama argued that the continued withholding of results was causing “pain” to Zimbabweans eagerly waiting for the outcome.

Zuma had invited Tsvangirai to get first hand information on the elections
results. Said the source that traveled with Tsvangirai “Zuma showed tremendous interest on Zimbabwe. He promised to help to unlock the deadlock over election results and negotiate an exit deal for Mugabe,”

Zuma told Tsvangirai that he will engage Mbeki when he returns to South Afrin. SA President Thabo Mbeki was still out of the country following his meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Saturday.

“ Zuma says as ANC leader he will take a tough stance on Zanu PF as he believes that their continued stay in power will pose problems when he becomes president next year. ‘So he wants to get rid of Mugabe now” said the source.

Political leaders should never stay in power for over a decade, Zuma said. Ten years is enough and beyond 10 years, politicians begin to personalise everything and there begin to have problems.”

Added the source “ Also Zuma said he is prepared to break away from Mbeki’s much critised quiet diplomacy. He said this has failed and leaders who believe in democracy like himself should act now on Mugabe”

Mugabe’s continued refusal to announce presidential election results has forced many to draw inferences that he does not want to step down, with the blackout sending conflicting and ambiguous messages as to whether he will hand over power or not.

Yesterday, the MDC’s court challenge to have the election results announced immediately has been bogged down by official interference, with High Court judge, Justice Tendai Uchena, reportedly working on political instructions, deferring the case again to today.

The MDC mounted the legal challenge on Friday, but the judge has postponed the case for a record four times so far, ostensibly because he wants to study the heads of arguments by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which argues the court has no locus standi to hear the case.

The visit to South Africa is the first of a regional tour by Tsvangirai that
will take the MDC delegation to Tanzania for talks with President Kikwete. Tsvangirai is also seeking the intervention of the UN, whose secretary general Ban ki-Moon yesterday insisted that the Mugabe government immediately announce the results.

Mugabe has demanded a recount of the votes saying the MDC had bribed polling officers to inflate votes in their favour.

Yesterday seven ZEC junior officials were arrested for allegedly inflating
figures to MDC favour. Zanu-PF administrative secretary, Didymus Mutasa said the ZEC had rigged the election in MDC’s favour. “We will purge ZEC,” he said. “There is no way we can conduct elections with thieves.”

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