Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

10 September 2008

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Visits Botswana Again

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) president Morgan Tsvangirai stopped over in Gaborone last Friday to brief the Botswana government on the ongoing unity talks.

Director of Public Relations and Research at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Clifford Maribe confirmed the visit. He said Tsvangirai was here "to brief the government on the ongoing talks in Zimbabwe". The MDC leader was in Botswana for two hours before continuing in his campaign to mobilise diplomatic pressure to force ZANU-PF leader Robert Mugabe to relinquish power.

The visit came some three weeks after the SADC heads of state summit in South Africa where the power-sharing talks collapsed, with Mugabe threatening to form a government without MDC participation.

Reports indicate that Tsvangirai has lost faith in the negotiations held under the mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been mandated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and had instead embarked on a campaign to mobilise some of Zimbabwe's neighbours, other African governments and major international powers to intensify pressure on Mugabe.

Tsvangirai's campaign will take him to West African countries, Europe, African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) where he hopes to urge them to exert pressure on Mugabe, who lost the March 29 harmonised elections, to surrender power.

The talks between ZANU-PF and MDC, aimed at forming a government of national unity that is seen as the best way to end Zimbabwe's running political and economic crisis, have stalled over how to share executive power between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Under the proposed deal, Tsvangirai would be required to report regularly to Mugabe. But the MDC leader has since refused to sign the deal, which would make him a ceremonial prime minister.

Meanwhile, a document giving Tsvangirai more powers as an executive premier is said to be on the table in the power-sharing talks, which got underway on Monday. Mbeki was reportedly trying to persuade Mugabe, Tsvangirai, and Arthur Mutambara, leader of the breakaway MDC faction, to sign the new draft agreement. The talks have been deadlocked over what powers Mugabe will retain and what powers he will cede to Tsvangirai.

*Additional reporting: ZimOnline and SABCnews

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