Ex- SA President set to preside over mediation talks in Zimbabwe again

President Mnangagwa and South African former President Thabo Mbeki address media at State House in Harare yesterday.-Picture: Tawanda Mudimu

HARARE – Former president Thabo Mbeki has held talks with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa to try to help end the nation’s political crisis.

Mbeki, in Zimbabwe at Mnangagwa’s invitation, met Chamisa and Mnangagwa separately on Monday and will meet other political leaders on Tuesday, Tendai Biti, a deputy president of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said by phone from Harare.

The MDC has refused to recognise Mnangagwa as the nation’s legitimate ruler since he was elected president in July 2018, and has called for an outside mediator to help resolve its differences with the governing party.

Zimbabwe is grappling with a drought, power and fuel shortages, and annual inflation estimated at 440%, the second-highest in the world.

“I think it’s very important that the region comes behind the president and the country because the challenges of Zimbabwe are our challenges,” Mbeki was quoted as saying by the state-owned Herald newspaper.

Mbeki mediated in Zimbabwe’s post-election crisis in 2008 between former President Robert Mugabe and then-opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, which resulted in the formation of a five-year power-sharing government.

While the opposition welcomes efforts to end the country’s political crisis, Mbeki doesn’t have a mandate to mediate in the talks, Biti said.

Calls to government spokesperson Nick Mangwana were not  answered when seeking comment.