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Zimbabwe Opposition Mends Fences With South Africa

A rapprochement appears to be under way between the Zimbabwe opposition and the South African government following a meeting on the weekend between Movement for Democratic Change President Morgan Tsvangirai and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. The Sunday meeting was one stop on a diplomatic initiative by Mr. Tsvangirai to focus the attention of key African leaders on the humanitarian crisis caused by Harare’s relentless slum clearance program. Mr. Tsvangirai said he also requested the meeting with Mr. Mbeki to discuss the ongoing political impasse in Zimbabwe.

Mr. Tsvangirai met last week with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Ghana’s President John Kufuor. His meeting with Mr. Mbeki came on the eve of a summit of the African Union in Libya, and as Western leaders headed for the annual Group of Eight economic summit in Scotland. The United States and Britain have increased pressure on the AU to take a firmer stand with Harare over alleged human rights abuses during its Operation Murambatsvina, or “Drive Out Rubbish.”

This convergence of factors represents an an opportunity for Mr. Tsvangirai to muster regional support – and in the case of Pretoria, to mend fences.

The MDC suspended discussions with South Africa earlier this year, accusing it of failing to mediate disputes over the March general election even-handedly.

Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Mr. Tsvangirai if his visit with Mr. Mbeki indicated a shift in the MDC’s stance.