The Herald (Harare)

Southern Africa: SADC Slams Door in PM's Face

PRIME Morgan Tsvangirai's "diplomatic offensive" suffered another setback on Wednesday when Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and his premier Hage Geingob snubbed the MDC-T leader, forcing him to take his roadshow to central and West Africa.

The cold shoulder in Windhoek followed similar indifference in Luanda where Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos could not be bothered leaving Mr Tsvangirai to meet low-level government officials.

Mr Tsvangirai embarked on a Sadc tour last week to exert pressure on member-states to compel President Mugabe to postpone elections till the implementation of so-called reforms.

Impeccable sources say Sadc, the guarantor of the GPA, was "sick and tired" of Mr Tsvangirai's antics that have also drawn fire from his MDC counterparts who described the tour as "silly and embarrassing".

The NCA queried why Mr Tsvangirai was only demanding reforms now when he had spent the past four years in the inclusive Government.

Mr Tsvangirai sought to meet the Namibian leaders on Wednesday, but was snubbed, prompting him to switch his itinerary to central and west Africa.

This comes ahead of the 21st session of the African Union General Assembly which convenes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from the 19th to the 27th of this month.

Reports say Mr Tsvangirai was entertained by presidents Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria as he lobbies for support to delay polls beyond June 29.

Reports from Namibia say President Pohamba and PM Geingob showed no interest in meeting him.

"It appears that (President) Pohamba and Geingob are not so keen to engage with Tsvangirai on this matter because of their relationship with (President) Mugabe and his party so they will not meet with him," The Namibian, one of that country's dailies, reported this week, quoting a Government source.

Mr Tsvangirai's political advisor Dr Alex Magaisa on Tuesday confirmed that the premier was scheduled to meet either President Pohamba or PM Geingob in Namibia.

"Although I don't have more details because I am attending a funeral, a stop in Namibia by the Prime-Minister is on his itinerary this week," he said.

However, Namibian officials were quoted denying any such visit to the country by Mr Tsvangirai.

"I have no idea about that," said Minister of Foreign Affairs Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who seemed not to even know who Mr Tsvangirai was.

Namibia's Minister of Presidential Affairs Dr Albert Kawana said he did not know of any scheduled visit by Mr Tsvangirai.

"Although I have been away, I have just met with the president and he did not tell me anything about Tsvangirai visiting the country," he said.

PM Geingob's personal assistant Mr Gonty Diaz also professed ignorance over Tsvangirai's meeting with PM Geingob.

"I have no information of such a visit or meeting," Mr Diaz said.

Analysts say Mr Tsvangirai had failed to read the mood in the region that was closely watching the nascent Renamo insurgency in Mozambique and the fact that he could run to Angola that was still recovering from the destructive engagement of the Western-sponsored Unita of Jonas Savimbi testified to his political naiveté.

Mr Tsvangirai was agitating for a special summit on Zimbabwe to compel President Mugabe to implement "outstanding GPA issues" among them security sector and media reforms which analysts say were all addressed in the draft Constitution set to be tabled in Parliament next Tuesday.

In a statement yesterday, PM Tsvangirai's spokesperson Mr Luke Tamborinyoka said his boss was on tour to meet guarantors of the GPA in both Sadc and AU to press for the full implementation of the agreed reforms and a summit to set the ground rules for a credible plebiscite in Zimbabwe.

"Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday took his diplomatic offensive to Central and West Africa, where he met Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba and Nigerian leader president Goodluck Jonathan as part of his tour to press for Africa's support for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

"PM Tsvangirai met the Gabon Prime Minister before he met with President Ondimba, who chairs the confederation of Central African States," he said.

An MDC-T official who declined to be named said their president lacked political advisors of repute.

"He always does things that Zanu-PF will end up capitalising on every time. I think we do not have advisors of repute."

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