On the eve of a meeting between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, the politburo of Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has urged the president not to entertain proposals as to a transition when he meets the UN chief on the weekend at an African Union summit in the Gambia.
ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira was quoted in Zimbabwean media reports as saying the encounter on the sidelines of the AU summit in the Gambian capital of Banjul, would be mere “diplomatic etiquette.” Harare has no interest in an economic rescue package or any initiative to bring about a transition government, he said.
Diplomatic sources said Annan wants Mugabe to introduce wide-ranging political and economic reforms in return for an economic bailout. South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is pushing the initiative, has asked to join the Annan-Mugabe talks.
Annan has said action is needed to save Zimbabwe from "total collapse.” But analysts concluded that Mugabe poured cold water on the deal Thursday when he declared at the funeral of a minister that Zimbabwe does not need a rescue package
Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe sought comment from Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, who said Mr. Mugabe was in a perpetual state of denial.
Meanwhile, sources at the summit venue in the Gambia said the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, which is based there, will move its report on Harare’s alleged human rights abuses before African heads of state at the summit.
Harare has managed to delay examination of the critical report by the heads of state since an AU summit in Mauritius in late 2004, saying then that the report had not been delivered according to the proper protocol, and later that it had not had time to draft a response. But sources in the Gambia said Harare has finally delivered a response.
Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe Coalition coordinator Jacob Mafume said he and others are pushing for the issue of human rights in Zimbabwe to be put on the AU agenda.
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...