Mbeki urged to quit as mediator

No members of Zimbabwe's opposition met with visiting South African President Thabo Mbeki, who they say should be replaced as mediator in the country's political crisis.

President Robert Mugabe greeted the South African leader as he arrived at the airport for his third visit as mediator on behalf of the Southern African Development Community.

The two men, wearing flower garlands, laughed as they walked hand-in-hand from the aircraft on Mbeki's arrival. They did not speak with reporters, but later posed for photographs in Mugabe's residence, State House, where met for nearly four hours.

Mbeki left later yesterday.

But no one from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change sat down with Mbeki, seeing him as biased toward Mugabe, opposition spokesman George Sibotshiwe said.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai "has no confidence in Mbeki," and has called for him to step aside and allow Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa to take over mediation, Sibotshiwe said.

Mwanawasa has been more critical of Mugabe, while Mbeki — believing Mugabe will not respond to confrontation — has stuck to so-called "quiet diplomacy" on Zimbabwe.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai have been in a tense political standoff. The opposition leader insists he won the 29 March presidential election outright.

The electoral commission said last week that Tsvangirai had won the most votes but failed to win the simple majority required for a first-round victory, and so would have to face Mugabe again in a runoff.

Mugabe has been accused of orchestrating violence against the opposition since the first round, raising questions about whether a runoff would be free or fair.

Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, is expected to make an announcement Saturday in South Africa on whether it will take part in a runoff.

No date has been set for the vote, although Mugabe has already begun campaigning.

Meanwhile, opposition party supporters are increasingly under attack.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said 22 people had died and 900 were tortured in postelection violence.

But "violence is now on such a scale that it is impossible to properly document all cases," the association said in a statement Friday, citing a "dramatic increase" in violence since the start of May.

In the last 24 hours, Harare hospitals and clinics have treated 30 people for broken limbs, the association said. Those admitted to hospitals with injuries included elderly men, breast-feeding women and a 3-year-old boy struck in the eye by a rock, it said.

"The level of brutality and callousness exhibited by the perpetrators is unprecedented," the statement said.

The doctors also raised concerns about the intimidation of health workers and a shortage of medical supplies.

Meanwhile, the deputy director of army public relations, Maj. Alois Makotore, denied accusations that soldiers had harassed or assaulted people, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported Friday.

The newspaper also accused opposition supporters of burning the homes of ruling party supporters. Government and party officials have denied they were responsible for the violence and instead blamed the opposition.

Carolyn Norris from Human Rights Watch, speaking Friday by telephone from London, said opposition supporters had occasionally retaliated, but that violence on the opposition's part was "tiny in proportion to absolute campaign of violence and intimidation by the ruling party." She said there was no evidence of the opposition "organizing a revenge campaign

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test