Mbeki gets thumbs up

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, yesterday gave his full backing to President Thabo Mbeki as mediator of the Zimbabwean political crisis.

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, yesterday gave his full backing to President Thabo Mbeki as mediator of the Zimbabwean political crisis.

Mbeki was given the task last week by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg, Tsvangirai said Mbeki's past approaches on the Zimbabwe issue should not be held against him as he was now acting on behalf of the SADC region and not just South Africa.

"There were moments when people doubted whether President Mbeki was an honest broker, but that is immaterial," said Tsvangirai.

"We are talking about a new initiative that is not driven by South Africa, but by the region. The whole region is behind Mbeki."

Mbeki has in the past been criticised for his "quiet diplomacy" towards Zimbabwe. In 2004 his efforts to hold negotiations with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe failed.

"In 2004 it was Mugabe who scuttled the talks because he was not interested in negotiation or solution.

"Mbeki must approach this matter from a new perspective and must be wary not to be led up the garden path by Mugabe, who will pretend to be going through some process, but with the intention of scuttling the talks," he said.

Tsvangirai was in South Africa to visit a doctor after he was beaten by police last month.

The political situation in Zimbabwe has been tense since Tsvangirai and several other opposition leaders were beaten in police custody after their arrest during a rally. - Sapa

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