HARARE – Former South African president Thabo Mbeki has offered advice to President Emmerson Mnangagwa on how to address Zimbabwe’s ongoing political and economic challenges following the disputed elections held last month.
Speaking to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in New York, where he is attending United Nations meetings, Mbeki suggested that a power-sharing government, similar to the one he brokered in 2009, could help resolve the crisis.
“In 2008, when the Zimbabweans could see that the elections had not produced a winner, they decided, let’s get together as Zimbabweans for five years and see what we can do together,” said Mbeki during the interview.
He emphasized the importance of considering the best interests of Zimbabweans in the current situation rather than holding onto political positions.
“What must inspire you is not to say I’m a leader of the people of South Africa or ANC president, but to say ‘what would be in the best interests of the country?'” he added.
Drawing parallels with his own political situation, Mbeki mentioned that he had chosen to “go along with the wrong decision” for the sake of South Africa, referring to his removal as ANC president.
He emphasized the potential consequences of resisting such decisions, which could lead to an “enormous crisis.”
Regarding the recent SADC election observer mission’s findings, which concluded that the elections did not meet regional and international standards, Mbeki noted that SADC troika chairman Hakainde Hichilema, the Zambian president, needs to make a decision based on the report.
He highlighted that the 2008 disputed elections led to the formation of a government of national unity in Zimbabwe as a response to the election-related violence and disagreements.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officially declared President Mnangagwa the winner of the August 23 elections with 52 percent of the vote, while his rival Nelson Chamisa received 44 percent.
However, foreign observers reported widespread intimidation, disruptions of opposition rallies, and compromised judges, raising concerns about the transparency of the elections.
President Mnangagwa is determined to lead Zimbabwe for a second and final five-year term, but Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) is demanding a re-run of the vote under SADC and African Union supervision.
On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Mnangagwa sought meetings with regional leaders, including SADC chairman Joao Lourenco of Angola, South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa, and Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi, to gain their support amid efforts to undermine the SADC observer mission report.
President Mnangagwa’s ongoing push for regional support underscores the continued uncertainty surrounding the election results and their acceptance within the region.