South Africa : ANC distances itself further from Thabo Mbeki

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The ANC in South Africa strongly believes Robert Mugabe knows exactly what the election results are and have said the delay in making them public is a “miscarriage of justice” and a denial of the wishes of Zimbabwe’s voters.

In its strongest criticism of President Thabo Mbeki yet, in statement on
Tuesday it warned of a “dire” situation in Zimbabwe which was having
a negative impact on all of southern Africa.

Mbeki, who has long pursued “quiet diplomacy” in Zimbabwe and adopted a wait-and-see approach after the poll, said before a summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at the weekend he saw no crisis in the neighbouring country.

ANC’s opposing views

A statement by the ANC’s executive National Working Committee said it
“regards the situation in Zimbabwe as dire, with negative consequences for the SADC region”.

It called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which has failed to release the results of the March 29 presidential poll, to announce the outcome “without further delay”, adding, “to hold a run-off vote when the election results are not known would be undemocratic and unprecedented”.

The ANC committee said Mbeki, defeated as ANC leader by Jacob Zuma in December, must remain neutral as a regional mediator. Zuma is the frontrunner to succeed Mbeki as president when he steps down next

A statement made on Tuesday by ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, as well as observations by ANC Treasurer General Mathews Phosa, widened the gap between the party and Mbeki, despite denials that this was happening.

Defending Mbeki’s statement

Minister of Provincial and Local Government and member of Mbeki’s mediation team in Zimbabwe Sydney Mufamadi said, in defence of Mbeki’s statement that there was not a crisis in Zimbabwe, that the President had been “quoted out of context”.

He said that when Mbeki had made the much-criticised statement over the weekend, there had not yet been any finality over the MDC’s application to the Zimbabwean High Court to make the results public.

Mufamadi explained that Mbeki had meant that a crisis only emerged when all means by which to resolve a situation had been exhausted.
“A crisis is a situation that emerges when there are no further instruments established by law by which to resolve it. There are adequate laws (in Zimbabwe) by which to solve the current situation.”

Phosa said on Tuesday that it was clear that there was a crisis in Zimbabwe and that the weekend’s meeting of the heads of state of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had been “useless”.

“We can’t ignore what is happening on our borders. The numerous respected leaders of our country, region and continent must urgently play a constructive role in the mediation process to ensure that we respect the choices of the voters,” Phosa said.

A threat to the region

He warned that that which was happening in one’s neighbouring country, such as a lack of peace and stability, could easily spill over and that it should be avoided at all costs.

“If the election results are available, as some parties and observers
claim, then they must be made public. We as a region cannot afford that the short-term damage becomes a long-term problem.

Also in its statement the ANC’s National Working Committee added that the Zimbabwean electoral commission was forfeiting credibility and that the results should be made public without delay.

In an apparent attempt to prevent speculation over differences between Mbeki’s and the ANC’s positions on Zimbabwe the NWC added that it accepted that Mbeki had to remain “neutral” in his role as mediator.

Mantashe said that it was completely premature for Zimbabwe’s government to ask for a run-off election before the results had even been made public.

Disregard for voters

“By asking for that kind of election you’re sending out the message that
you know what the results are but don’t want to publicise them. What it comes down to is that the voters’ wishes are being disregarded. What’s happening there is unacceptable,” Mantashe said.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe crisis is set to overshadow today’s high-level talks in the Security Council on closer security co-operation between the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU).

South Africa holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency and has opposed council discussion of Zimbabwe, arguing that the problems there are not a crisis and do not represent a threat to international peace and security.

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