SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team spokesperson Lindiwe Zulu — who was in Harare yesterday with deputy president Kgalema Mothlante to attend President Robert Mugabe’s inauguration — says the MDC parties failed to use their leverage during the protracted talks to secure reforms from Zanu PF before elections.
Elias Mambo recently in Malawi
Speaking for the first time since she was gagged by Zuma after a barrage of attacks from Mugabe, who described her as a “stupid street woman” during his trailblazing campaigns ahead of the polls, Zulu told the Zimbabwe Independent on the sidelines of the Sadc summit in Lilongwe, Malawi: “We were really shocked by the MDC negotiators who failed to pin down Zanu PF to implement reforms.”
“As facilitators, our duty was to bring the two warring teams to the negotiating table and each party had to push its own agenda,” she said.
“We could not advise the MDCs on what to do, the ball was in their court, because we were supposed to be impartial in our conduct of duty. There was a well-stipulated Sadc initiated roadmap to be followed to the letter until elections were held, but the MDC negotiators decided not to push for its implementation.”
Zulu also said she fell out of favour with Zanu PF because she pushed hard for the implementation of the roadmap and reforms.
“We tried to push hard to level the playing field. That is when Mugabe felt I was doing more than the MDCs themselves,” she said.
Mugabe attacked Zulu for speaking more than the MDCs when she insisted Sadc would only allow elections to take place once all agreed reforms were implemented.
Soon after the Maputo summit, senior Sadc officials told the Independent that the MDCs were failing to ride on efforts by the regional bloc to push Mugabe to implement reforms before elections.
“In those meetings we tried to make the MDCs talk, but they remained silent and allowed Zanu PF’s chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa to overshadow them,” said a senior Sadc official privy to the negotiations.
“We could not say anything more because during negotiations we were supposed to remain neutral, but one could feel the MDCs were playing underdogs when they were the ones who had been previously shortchanged.”
On her sour relations with Mugabe before they kissed and made up in Lilongwe, Zulu said she did not take his attacks personal because “in our meetings, we used to communicate professionally and I knew he was just grandstanding when he attacked me”.
“I had to stop being in the media because we felt we could lose the plot by creating an impression that the whole issue was about me and not the people of Zimbabwe,” she said.
“So in order to keep our focus, I agreed to be restrained even if my president (Zuma) knew I had done nothing wrong.”