Even if talks get off the ground, will Mbeki find a long-lasting solution to the country's complex crisis?
First published by ISS Today
Nearly 12 years after brokering a short-lived resolution to Zimbabwe's crisis, Thabo Mbeki was once again called on to mediate. And the crisis seemed to be more or less exactly where it was in 2008, give or take a few changes in the players on both sides of the yawning political divide.
And of course a significant alteration in Mbeki's own status, from South Africa's president then, to mediator at large now. The economy, certainly, was in just about as bad a shape as it had been then.
Mbeki mysteriously visited Harare on 16 December last year and met both President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa. Not much of substance emerged from the meetings.
After talking to Mnangagwa, Mbeki suggested it wasn't much more than a courtesy call, but did say he was pleased with what Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe were doing to address the country's challenges. He said it was important that the region back Zimbabwe, particularly in getting countries like the United States to lift sanctions against it.