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Zuma widens gap with Mbeki over Zimbabwe
Aprl 18, 2008
South African ruling party leader Jacob Zuma disagreed with President Thabo Mbeki over Zimbabwe yesterday, saying anxiety was increasing by the day over the post-election deadlock there.
Zuma was making his toughest comments yet on the delay in releasing election results in Zimbabwe as members of the UN Security Council and the AU met in New York to debate the Southern African nation, Sudan and Somalia.
Mbeki, increasingly isolated in his “softly softly” approach to Zimbabwe and his insistence there is no crisis there, is chairing the meeting as the rotating Security Council president.
Mbeki wants to block discussion on Zimbabwe.
Zuma said in a speech that: “The region cannot afford a deepening crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation is more worrying now given the reported violence that has erupted.”
Zuma ousted Mbeki as leader of the African National Congress last December and has moved gradually to increase his influence at the expense of his rival.
“We once again register our apprehension about the situation in Zimbabwe. The delay in the verification process and the release of results increases anxiety each day,” Zuma told South Africa’s Chambers of Commerce.
A judge in Harare yesterday adjourned until Thursday, hearing on an MDC application to block a recount of all votes cast in 23 out of 210 constituencies in the March 29 parliamentary and presidential elections.
The Movement for Democratic Change says the recount is another tactic by Mugabe to delay the election results while he orchestrates a campaign of militia violence to intimidate opposition supporters.
The High Court has already refused to order the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the presidential result.
The MDC, which defeated Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party in the parliamentary poll, says Tsvangirai should be declared leader of the economically devastated country after winning the undeclared presidential poll.
ZANU-PF says Tsvangirai did not win an absolute majority and a runoff would be necessary.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has joined the U.S., Britain and France in urging the New York meeting to discuss Zimbabwe.
The MDC and human rights groups say independence war veterans and other pro-Mugabe militia have organised systematic violence to try to ensure victory in a probable runoff.
An NGO, Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights said today it had treated 173 victims of organised violence and torture between March 29 and April 14.
A summit of southern African nations in Zambia last weekend called for the rapid release of the election results, but failed to acknowledge the situation as a crisis, apparently at the insistence of Mbeki.
A general strike called by the MDC on Tuesday to push for release of the presidential result flopped, with most workers fearing a police crackdown and their inability to make ends meet without working.
Zimbabwe is suffering the world’s highest rate of hyper-inflation, at more than 100,000 per cent, chronic shortages of food and fuel and 80 per cent unemployment.
Source: The Tide