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Harare Visit by S. African Deputy President Stirs Speculation

A one-day visit to Harare this week by South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for a meeting with President Robert Mugabe and Second Vice President Joyce Mujuru has raised speculation that Pretoria may be stepping up its role in African Union efforts to find a political solution in Zimbabwe.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka told South African journalists on returning from the four-hour trip Tuesday that she was seeking “a global understanding of the challenge” in Zimbabwe. Hundreds of thousands of mostly poor Zimabweans have been made homeless since May by a government slum-clearance campaign.

But with a Nigerian-led African Union diplomatic initiative afoot there is reason to think President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa may be reassessing his Zimbabwe policy of “quiet diplomacy,” which has been criticized as ineffective in bringing President Mugabe to the negotiating table with his political opposition.

Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe sought the view of political analyst Herman Honekom of the Africa Institute in Capetown.

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