PRESIDENT Mugabe will seek the support of regional heads of state to fund mediation efforts led by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa between Zimbabwe and Britain.
Diplomatic sources this week said Zimbabwe was lobbying th
e region to endorse the initiative when it is tabled at the Sadc Maseru Summit in Lesotho, scheduled for next month.
The sources said regional heads were keen to have Mkapa’s terms of reference spelt out as the mediation initiative currently appears to be Mugabe’s private project.
“There is already a buy-in from South Africa and Namibia that this should be a Sadc-funded project but money will only be released after Mkapa’s job description and a structure he will be working with have been clearly enunciated,” a diplomat said.
President Mugabe has said Mkapa will mediate in the dispute between Harare and London stemming from differences over Zimbabwe’s controversial land reforms launched in 2000 and electoral abuses.
He has said Mkapa will also address the issue of targeted sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe’s political leadership.
United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, at the recent African Union Summit in the Gambia, announced that he was no longer coming to Zimbabwe in light of the Mkapa initiative.
Sources yesterday said Zimbabwe had been lobbying the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security for the regional bloc to bankroll the initiative as the UN has indicated that Mkapa was not their mediator. The Sadc organ is led by Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba. Wire reports on Tuesday quoted UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe in New York as saying the UN would eventually have contact with Mkapa, but she stressed that he was not a UN mediator.
The sources said the non-involvement of the UN suited Mugabe as he fears the involvement of the world body would see Zimbabwe’s problems placed before the Security Council. The West has pushed for a Security Council resolution in its quest to get the international community to be more active in addressing the Zimbabwe crisis.
A source said Zimbabwe had already made representations for Mkapa’s budget to be drawn up before the Maseru Summit where the regional leaders are expected to ratify it. The source said Sadc heads however want Mkapa’s terms of reference to be tabled prior to the ratification of his operational budget. Mkapa’s terms of reference have been unclear since the announcement of his mediation efforts. President Mugabe though has been keen to portray Mkapa as his ally.
However, prospects for the success of his mediation efforts in the dispute with Britain are already dim as Britain has said Zimbabwe’s problems are of its own making. It is also unlikely that the European Union and the United States will lift sanctions so long as Mugabe pursues his present course.
Contrary to government press reports, Annan has given no pledge to have sanctions lifted as the UN was not instrumental in imposing them. — Staff Writer.