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Zimbabwe: President in talks with Wade
Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2007

By Itai Musengeyi
November 29, 2007
The Herald

SENEGALESE President Abdoulaye Wade yesterday proposed a committee of five African leaders to mediate over strained relations between Zimbabwe and Britain.

Speaking to journalists at State House in Harare after holding talks with President Mugabe, Mr Wade said one of the five leaders should be South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Mr Mbeki is already brokering talks between Government and the opposition MDC after being mandated by Sadc in March this year.

Significant progress has been made in the talks and President Mbeki was in Harare last week to brief President Mugabe and MDC faction leaders Professor Arthur Mutambara and Mr Morgan Tsvangirai on how the dialogue was progressing.

"I come to Zimbabwe to meet my brother (President) Mugabe because I think that in Africa we should help each other. You know that this country has some problems with the British and I think all African countries should help Zimbabwe.

"I think the problem should be an African problem and involve all African countries," said Mr Wade.

He, however, said President Mbeki had done a commendable job in trying to resolve the Zimbabwean issue but should not be left to shoulder the responsibility alone.

The Senegalese leader said he was glad Zanu-PF and the MDC were engaged in dialogue and had co-sponsored Constitutional Amendment Number 18 in Parliament in preparation for next year's elections.

"I am happy to know that they (Zanu-PF and MDC) are discussing. I am very happy, I can only encourage them," said Mr Wade, adding that he wished to meet the MDC.

Mr Wade stressed that the visit was his own initiative, but indicated that he had been in touch with the British ambassador to Senegal over the differences between London and Harare and that he would be phoning Whitehall authorities either "today or tomorrow" about his visit to Zimbabwe.

"Let me say that I was not sent by anybody (or) any country. I am just an African friend. We wish that the African Union sets up a committee of five among which (President) Mbeki should be involved in the mediation between Britain and Zimbabwe. We Africans must be the facilitators. My concern is to involve African states without negating the goodwill done so far."

Mr Wade said the visit gave him an opportunity to understand the situation in Zimbabwe.

He said some describe the state of affairs as catastrophic but he observed that the situation was just like in any other African country with similar problems such as power cuts, which Senegal also experiences.

Also responding to questions from journalists, President Mugabe said Mr Wade's initiative was welcome but that it was unfortunate the visit was short because Government would have facilitated for him to meet the different groups of Zimbabwean society and visit places to understand the country.

"He is an African brother. It's a family issue, he is very welcome. I would have rather received him over a longer stay so that we could show him a bit of the country," said Cde Mugabe.

He said Mr Wade wanted to be informed about Zimbabwe and he had done that during their talks, which lasted about two hours.

Cde Mugabe said he chronicled Zimbabwe's history, part of which Mr Wade already knew.

"Where we differ with the British, I told him. We don't fear talking to the British, but it is the other side that fears talking to us. We don't know how they want to resolve the problem if there is no dialogue. With (former British prime minister) Margaret Thatcher, ideologically we were never one, but we talked," said President Mugabe.

Mr Wade and his delegation flew in yesterday morning for a two-day official visit and were met at Harare International Airport by President Mugabe, ministers, diplomats, service chiefs and senior Government officials.

Last night President Mugabe hosted a dinner for Mr Wade at the Rainbow Towers.

Today the Senegalese leader is expected to visit the National Heroes Acre before he returns home.

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