Mbeki invites civil society to talks – Zimbabwe

source: The Standard (Zimbabwe)

BY WALTER MARWIZI

SOUTH AFRICAN President Thabo Mbeki has agreed to meet Zimbabwean civil society leaders ahead of this week’s Sadc summit in Lusaka, Zambia, it has been confirmed.

This represents a major breakthrough for civil society organisations, who for long lobbied to be included in Mbeki’s mediation efforts.

The talks have been confined to Zimbabwe’s two major parties, the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Civil society organisations have argued for a “multi-sectoral approach” to the mediation process, saying other players, besides Zanu PF and MDC, must be involved if a meaningful solution to the economic and political crisis was to be found.

Among groups invited will be non-governmental organisations (NGOs) dealing with governance and human rights, labour, churches, youth and women organisations. These groups have been formally invited to Pretoria to meet Mbeki either on Monday or Tuesday, sources said yesterday.

They said the timing of the meeting was particularly important considering that Mbeki has to report back on the progress of the talks to other regional leaders at the SADC summit where the Zimbabwean issue is expected to feature prominently on the agenda.

A South African embassy official said yesterday: “I would not like to comment on that issue at the moment but you should know where there is smoke, there is a fire.”

Jacob Mafume, one of the co-ordinators of the civil society organisations, confirmed they would present their position to the mediators in Pretoria.

“We have just got a response from the embassy, saying [continue reading]

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