THIS office wishes to place on record that there is absolutely no truth to the story that appeared in the January 7 edition of the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper that the President, Festus Mogae,
met with the leader of the Zimbabwe opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, during the Christmas holidays.
In paragraph five of the article entitled “Imminent split moves MDC on elections” by Itai Dzamara the newspaper falsely reported that:
“The Independent can reveal that during the Christmas holidays, Botswana president Festus Mogae and representatives of President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa convinced the opposition party that it should contest the election.”
In the eighth paragraph of the same article, it is further falsely reported that: “Mogae met Tsvangirai during a private visit to Victoria Falls over the festive season to brief him on the deliberations he had with other Sadc heads of state. He reiterated that the common position was for the MDC to participate in the election or risk losing its relevance.”
In the above context it may be noted that:
*The President did not hold discussions with Tsvangirai or any other MDC leader over the holidays.
*While on holiday the President, accompanied by members of his family, did pay a private overnight visit to Victoria Falls, arriving on December 29 and departing the following day for Kasane. The purpose of the visit was recreational.
*Upon his arrival at the Falls, the President was greeted by the Zimbabwe Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stan Mudenge, who was accompanied by some other officials at the airport. At no time, however, did he meet with opposition leaders or otherwise engage in any substantive discussions as falsely reported by the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.
The President’s only meeting with Tsvangirai occurred at the latter’s request on November 12 2004. In a press release issued from this office the same day it was reported that:
*For his part, the President expressed the hope that the MDC would continue to participate in the electoral process and that any outstanding political differences among Zimbabweans should be peacefully resolved through dialogue and compromise”.
From the above it should be apparent that this office has no motive to deny the Zimbabwe Independent report other than the simple fact that it is blatantly untrue.
Jeff F Ramsay,
Press Secretary to the