Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wed, 10 Dec 2008 23:44:00 +0000
THE SOUTH African Government has issued a statement saying that they cannot pressure President Robert Mugabe to leave office as his position is provided for in a power–sharing arrangement signed by all parties in Zimbabwe.
Responding to questions after a media briefing in Pretoria yesterday, South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Director-General Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, said that South Africa’s stance on Zimbabwe was guided by the agreement signed on September 15 this year facilitated by former President Thabo Mbeki and mandated by Sadc and the African Union.
“South Africa cannot arrive at a decision that says that what is included in that (Sept. 15) agreement, viz. that President Mugabe should be President and Morgan Tsvangirai should be Prime Minister – South Africa cannot disagree with this because this agreement is what is guiding all actions of SADC,” said Dr Ntsaluba in response to questions from the media.
“So, the posture that we are assuming now, is not the posture of pressurizing President Mugabe to step down,” added Dr Ntsaluba.
“Thankfully, the leaders of Zimbabwe, in their wisdom, agreed on 15 September 2008 to a framework they believe will assist them to extract their country from its difficulties.
“The pressure on President Mugabe and Zanu-PF is for them to move with greater speed to successfully implement the agreement … so that an inclusive government can be established.”
The Director-General emphasized the urgency of the formation of an all-inclusive Government in Zimbabwe to deal with the humanitarian situation in the country.
“Sadc, or indeed anyone who loves Zimbabwe, would want to put as much pressure on the leaders for them to move with greater speed towards concluding and establishing an inclusive government,” he said.
“We have a situation that is assuming a humanitarian character. Today it is cholera, in two months time it might be malaria remembering that we are on the verge of the rainy season. Hence, we need an inclusive government to assist the people of Zimbabwe. That is really the approach.”
Dr Ntsaluba dismissed calls by Western leaders and their African allies that troops should be deployed in Zimbabwe to forcibly remove President Mugabe from power.
Echoing sentiments from other Sadc countries' leaders including Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, Dr Ntsaluba said, “I cannot see that arising. I do not believe that is on the agenda of the South African government at all. I do not think that the South African government is persuaded that that is the right way to go.”
He added that South Africa was considering a raft of measures to help Zimbabwe deal with the current cholera epidemic in the country.
“The Ministers will be discussing the package of support measures that can be offered to Zimbabwe – both in the interests of Zimbabwe and its people, but also in the interests of limiting the reach of these communicable diseases to the geographical borders of only Zimbabwe.”
Dr Ntsaluba stressed the need to focus on the urgent cholera crisis to minimize the death emanating therefrom, and asked political leaders to refrain from using the crisis for political points scoring.
“There should be no political point scoring and games played when what is really needed right now is support.”
He added that South Africa’s mission in Zimbabwe during this crisis was not to listen to stories about who is to blame for the crisis, but to contain it.
“I don’t think we went to Zimbabwe, or even want to spend too much time and effort on apportioning blame and who is responsible for what.”
“You need all of the political leadership of Zimbabwe, across the political divide to pull together in one direction and try to help their country and so, all our efforts will be aimed at trying to nudge them to work for this and so, we would not really want to spend time on who is responsible.”
Dr Ntsaluba said he would not be drawn into judging the wisdom of MDC-T leader’s absence from Zimbabwe at this crucial juncture.
“Prime Minister designate Tsvangirai is not in Zimbabwe, yes I don’t know, he may be in South Africa or outside of Zimbabwe. For now, we don’t want to comment on whether that is the wise or correct thing for him to do in the middle of this crisis. That is his choice, his decision. We respect the decisions he takes.”
He reiterated the need to urgently form a Government in Zimbabwe to tackle the multitude of problems the country currently faces.
“All we are saying to them is move with speed, implement those decisions so that we can begin to tackle the challenges facing the country.”
(Report by Itayi Garande. More information can be obtained via: firstname.lastname@example.org)