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
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect