SW Radio Africa (London)
30 January 2008
Posted to the web 30 January 2008
By Tichaona Sibanda
A face-to-face meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai to try to resolve the talks has been scuttled - by Angola and Mozambique. The meeting was due to take place on Friday but the two countries blocked South African President Thabo Mbeki's initiative that was to see the two protagonists under the same roof in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
A highly placed source told us Mbeki had suggested to the SADC Heads of State that Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai come together under one roof to attempt to thrash out a workable solution to the deadlocked crisis talks. Since all SADC leaders would be assembling in Ethiopia for the annual African Union summit that starts on Thursday, Mbeki had wanted to use the opportunity to brief SADC leaders on the progress of the talks. The SADC talks are expected to be held on the sidelines of the AU summit.
'This was going to be the first ever meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai and Mbeki had sought to have both in his Troika briefing, so that they could present their case to the regional grouping that initiated the negotiations,' said the source.
The rest of the SADC Heads of State felt comfortable with the idea but Angola and Mozambique, the two countries whose leaders stand firmly behind Mugabe, vetoed the idea.
'Mugabe did his homework and realised his party would almost certainly be blamed for the impasse. By calling on his friends to block Mbeki's initiative was a drawback for the South African leader,' the source added.
The SADC briefing will go ahead as scheduled with Mugabe in attendance, but with no-one presenting facts from the opposition. Tsvangirai has been in Johannesburg waiting for the call to fly to Ethiopia for the crunch talks, but has now shelved the plans following the veto by Angola and Mozambique.
A political analyst in Johannesburg who asked not to be named said it was high time people wrote an obituary of the crisis talks because they were 'dead'.
'Lets not pretend about who is to blame for the crisis, the SADC leaders know the source of the problems, the international community is well updated and no one seems to have an idea how to deal with it. I think its time Zimbabweans reflected on this and not rely on other people to sort out their problems,' said the analyst.