JZ messed up in UK on Mugabe

SOUTH Africa's geopolitical influence and relevance within the region was once again put in the spotlight during President Jacob Zuma's recent state visit to the United Kingdom.

Instead of using the opportunity to find a common understanding with Prime Minister Gordon Brown on ways that would compel Robert Mugabe to honour his obligations under the unity government with Morgan Tsvangirai, and hence the holding of democratic elections in Zimbabwe, Zuma chose to give credence to Mugabe's insincere rhetoric that sanctions were responsible for the current impasse in the power-sharing agreement.

What Zuma and his foreign policy team fail to realise is that this unfortunate alignment of government support with the Mugabe camp will have the unintended consequences of making the Zimbabwean president even more arrogant and unwilling to implement the power-sharing agreement to its letter and spirit.

It is from this compromised position that Zuma's trip to Harare to meditate between the two parties will prove to be another futile attempt, unless he rises above his predecessor's failed Mugabe-appeasement tactics and reads the riot act if and when the octogenarian chooses to stall the negotiation process.

Anything to the contrary will just be what Mugabe needs to string along with South Africa's mediation efforts without giving any serious commitment to finding a lasting solution to Zimbabwe's problem.

Enocent Nemuramba Khayelitsha