Saturday, April 19, 2008
By Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday April 19, 2008 [04:00]
PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa has turned down calls by Zimbabwe's MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to take over mediation in Zimbabwe's political crisis. And the Zambian government has described Zimbabwean justice minister Patrick Chinamasa's assertions that President Mwanawasa is collaborating with the West to bring about regime change in that country as a mark of unfairness.
Chief government spokesperson Mike Mulongoti said at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that the idea of taking over South African President Thabo Mbeki's mediatory role in Zimbabwe was not within President Mwanawasa's contemplation.
"While the call from Mr Tsvangirai would have some moral persuasion, this is a matter which Mr Tsvangirai had discussed with President Mwanawasa and he advised Mr Tsvangirai that it was not possible for him to undertake that," he said.
Mulongoti, who commended President Mbeki for the well-coordinated manner in which he had so far handled the Zimbabwean political situation, said the decision to appoint the South African President as a go-between in Zimbabwe was collective because it was arrived at during the summits of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) heads of state in Tanzania and Zambia respectively.
"Any decision to depart from that mandate can only be arrived by the same," he said. "President Mwanawasa State Counsel has been in contact with President Mbeki over the matter because President Mbeki had called to just hear President Mwanawasa over the matter.
President Mwanawasa advised that the issue is not in his contemplation."
Mulongoti said President Mwanawasa was not willing to take over the mediatory in Zimbabwe because he already had so many things on his hands.
"As SADC chairman, he is already deeply involved in the matter related to Zimbabwe and that the leadership which he is providing for now is adequate," he said.
Mulongoti said for now any fresh developments taking place on the Zimbabwean political landscape would be handled through the regional body's collective effort.
Mulongoti said the last extra-ordinary summit of SADC heads of state in Lusaka was not able to conclusively deal with the Zimbabwean post-election question because of issues that were before the court in Harare.
He said people would be notified of SADC's next step over Zimbabwe once the courts decide on the matter.
And Mulongoti said the Zambian government was not working with Western nations to bring about 'regime change' in Zimbabwe, as claimed by Chinamasa in a story that appeared in Zimbabwe's Herald Newspaper on Thursday.
"It is a mark of unfairness and more so we take strong exception," said Mulongoti.