Zim to set up negotiating commission for talks


Vincent Kahiya

THE Zimbabwe government should develop an institutional framework to administer a negotiated settlement between feuding political parties in the country, the Zimbabwe Independent heard thi

s week.


The framework of the envisaged commission would be along the same lines as South Africa’s Codesa and would be responsible for setting out the agenda for the talks, deciding on the process and directing the course of negotiations.


Codesa negotiations among the key South African parties took place from 1991 to 1993 in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, and drafted the transition from apartheid to all party elections in 1994.


In an interview with the South African press this week, South African Foreign Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said her government was waiting for Zimbabwe to set up the commission.


Formal talks between the Zimbabwe government and the MDC, she said, will only take place after the commission was set up and informal talks had been completed. Zuma did not speculate on when this would happen. This is the first reference made to the commission.


South African President Thabo Mbeki last Sunday said the government of Zimbabwe and the opposition had agreed on an agenda for negotiations geared toward holding parliamentary elections.


However, both Zanu PF and the MDC this week said they knew nothing about the formation of the commission.


MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube on Tuesday said his party was not aware of the commission.


“I have not the slightest idea what this is about,” said Ncube. “The only thing I know is that we are waiting for Zanu PF to come to the negotiating table.”


Zanu PF secretary for Information and Publicity Dr Nathan Shamuyarira on Wednesday also said he was not aware of the formation of the commission.


“We do not know where that is coming from,” said Shamuyarira. When told that Zuma had made the reference in a press report this week, Shamuyarira said: “You can give her (Zuma) a call and they can give you the details”.


South African Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa in a telephone interview on Wednesday however said his government stood by the assertion that the parties were talking.


“The minister (Zuma) was reiterating what the president (Mbeki) said – that both parties had agreed to a transition into formal talks,” said Mamoepa.


“We stand by the minister’s statement and that of our president. You will remembers that last year they denied that they were talking until the president (Mbeki) visited (Harare) in December,” he said. – additional reporting by Sapa.

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