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South Africa rallies behind President Mugabe
Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2008

Herald Reporters
December 11, 2008
The Herald

SOUTH Africa has rallied behind President Mugabe saying he is the legitimate Head of State of Zimbabwe as spelt out in the September 15 power-sharing agreement between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations.

This comes in the wake of calls by Western countries for the military invasion of Zimbabwe to topple the Zanu-PF Government.

Ruling out deploying troops in Zimbabwe to topple the Government, South Africa urged everyone to abide by the September 15 agreement to establish an inclusive Government made up of the country's three main political parties.

The South African government also said the people of Zimbabwe and the political parties had chosen President Mugabe to be Head of State hence calls for him to step down were misplaced.

Addressing a Press conference in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday, the director-general in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, however, said it was difficult to manage the situation when MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was spending "so much time outside Zimbabwe".

"Firstly, the negotiating parties in Zimbabwe signed an agreement on 15 September 2008 of which we are aware of and they have decided to enter into an agreement which by definition would imply that they did reflect on what, under the current circumstances, would best enable them to help their country emerge from its difficulties. I am sure both parties had to make very difficult compromises.

"It is in the nature of those agreements but I want to start there precisely, because South Africa's own approach is really to support the parties in Zimbabwe and the people of Zimba-bwe and to the extent that the people of Zimbabwe are represented by those parties for them to implement the decisions of the agreement they have entered into.

"So, South Africa cannot arrive at a decision that says that what is included in that agreement . . . 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, as you know," he said.

Dr Ntsaluba was part of a delegation led by Reverend Frank Chikane from Sadc that visited Zimbabwe early this week.

The West, led by Britain, the European Union and the United States, has been calling for the invasion of Zimbabwe to topple the Zanu-PF Government.

But Government has dismissed the call saying the West was trying to push its illegal regime change agenda using the cholera outbreak.

Africa has rejected the calls for a military invasion of Zimbabwe with Tanzania, the current chair of the African Union, and Kenya, leading the rejections.

Dr Ntsaluba said his government was focusing on ensuring "that we nudge, put as much peaceful pressure in all forms, on the different elements in Zimbabwe, on the leadership of Zimbabwe to finalise the discussions so that an inclusive Government can be established".

"So, the posture that we are assuming now is not the posture of pressurising President Mugabe to step down," he said.

He urged Sadc and all people genuinely interested in progress to "move with greater speed" towards concluding and establishing an inclusive Government.

"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," he said.

Dr Ntsaluba said South Africa would not consider any military options.

"I do not believe that is on the agenda of the South African government at all although I cannot predict what will happen in the next 20 years.

"But for now, and of course, in the current debate, I do not think that the South African government is persuaded that that is the right way to go," he said.

He said Sadc was awaiting feedback following the three parties' agreement on the draft Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill which has been forwarded to the parties' principals.

"By and large, we remain hopeful that Ame-ndment 19 should be agreed upon.

"As you recall, there are three stages thereafter: the first one is that following agreement to Amendment 19, it should be gazetted but the agreement signed on 15 September 2008 also makes it clear that once it is gazetted and before it is even passed into law, that we need not wait for that, and once gazetted we can proceed to the appointment of a Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

"At the time of gazetting, it would pre-suppose that all the parties have agreed and therefore it would mean that all parties will co-sponsor it when it goes before Parliament and it would therefore be possible to achieve the required majority. So, I think that process is there," he said.

He expressed hope that the process would be accelerated.

"They do require an inclusive Government in place so that it can take full charge and responsibility for the country, and indeed so

there can be some comfort provided in terms of the international community to commence high-level and significant engagement with Zimbabwe," he said.

The SA facilitators to the inter-party dialogue are in the country and have been meeting the Zanu-PF and MDC negotiators.

MDC leader Professor Arthur Mutambara yesterday met the facilitators as part of consultations for the formation of an inclusive Government.

Prof Mutambara confirmed meeting the facilitators and that the gazetting of the Constitutional Amendment Number 19 should signal the formation of an inclusive Government.

He said there was no need to wait for the passage of Bill in Parliament because the mere gazetting should be enough to form the Government.

"I have just come out of a meeting with the facilitators this morning where we held discussions around Constitutional Amendment Number 19. Parties have been in agreement with its provisions and what is now left is to gazette it," said Prof Mutambara in an interview at Budiriro Polyclinic where he was visiting cholera patients.

"Once it is gazetted, an inclusive Government should be formed the next day, a delay by a day would be prolonging the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. We should not wait for its passage, so I urge my colleagues, President Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai, to put Zimbabwe first."

He said while Zimbabwe might need foreign partners in tackling the current challenges, it was critical to realise that only Zimbabweans held the keys in finding solutions to the political and economic challenges affecting the country.

"No day should go without forming an inclusive Government once the Bill has been gazetted. Zimbabwe are the masters of their destiny, we are in these problems because by the failure by us Zimbabweans, we must not pass the buck, we need to take charge of our destiny," he said.

Dr Ntsaluba said their mission focused mainly on assessing and discussing with relevant structures how South Africa could help Zimbabwe with its present challenges, including the cholera outbreak.

"There should be no political point scoring and games played when what is really needed right now is support.

"What we know is the evolution of the difficulties in Zimbabwe which is why we strongly support the conclusion arrived at by the leaders of Zimbabwe – that the problems of Zimbabwe have reached a point where 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."

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