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Zimbabwe should attend summit: Germany
Posted: Saturday, October 6, 2007

Herald Reporter
October 06, 2007

President Thabo Mbeki yesterday staved off pressure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to take a tougher stance against Zimbabwe.

The two leaders met in South Africa yesterday.

Prior to the meeting, the German leader had reportedly vowed to persuade the South African leader to take a tougher stance on Zimbabwe despite the notable achievements his mediation has already scored.

Media reports last night indicated that Ms Merkel came out of her meeting with President Mbeki singing from a different hymn sheet and even categorically stated that Zimbabwe should be present at the European Union-Africa Summit regardless of British attempts to bar Harare from the Lisbon summit.

Her pronouncement will put a damper on British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's apparent desire to have President Mugabe barred.

Last night she was quoted as having said: "During our presidency of the European Union (earlier this year), we worked very much to prepare the ground for the upcoming EU-AU Summit ... and we want this summit to, indeed, open a new chapter in the relationship between our continents.

"I have said right from the start that the President of the Republic of Germany wanted to invite all African countries to that summit and it's up to the countries themselves to decide how they are going to be represented at the table.

"I also said (to Mr Mbeki) that obviously we will make all our assessments heard. We will also raise all our criticisms. We would do so in the presence of each and everyone and obviously each and every one has the right to attend."

Germany is working with Portugal on the organisation of the summit.

The German leader went further and thanked President Mbeki for the role he is playing in facilitating dialogue between the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC.

Portugal has already indicated that it would like to have all African leaders in attendance while a number of African leaders have made it clear that there will be no summit if President Mugabe is not invited to Lisbon.

Sadc heads of state earlier this year mandated South Africa to mediate between Zimbabwe's main political parties, resulting in the co-sponsoring of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (Number 18) Bill in Parliament last month.

It is understood that President Mbeki impressed upon the German leader that considerable progress had been achieved in the South African-facilitated talks between Zanu-PF and the two factions of the MDC.

After meeting his German counterpart, Mr Mbeki told the media he was confident that the two political parties would soon reach a composite agreement and next year's harmonised elections would be free and fair.

"There is a united voice emerging from the ruling party and opposition on what to do to address these political problems. There was a common determination to conclude them (the talks) as quickly as possible.

"We are confident they will reach an agreement on all of these matters. So, at least as far as the political challenges are concerned, there was a united voice. Both the ruling party and opposition are committed to making sure the elections are free and fair.

"Next year after the elections, it will be very important they take the same approach with regard to economic challenges that they together evolve a common approach," he said.

However, the Government in Harare yesterday criticised Ms Merkel for labelling the so-called Zimbabwe crisis a "disastrous" one.

Secretary for Information and Publicity Cde George Charamba said Germany had no moral standing to pass judgment on Zimbabwe.

"Zimbabwe would very much appreciate it if this good lady would do us a great favour by simply lifting those illegal sanctions which her predecessor imposed hoping to protect German (wildlife) conservancies here.

"It is ironical that Germany, with a history such as it has, has the temerity to see a speck in Zimbabwe's eye," Cde Charamba said.

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