The embattled president of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change extended his campaign to regain control of the party to the Harare diplomatic corps, briefing diplomats Thursday on the MDC rift over contesting senate elections to allay concerns that the main contender for a democratic transition might fracture.
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai later received the newly appointed South African ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mlungisi Makhalima, at his home in a Harare suburb where the two men “compared notes and agreed on fresh proposals for cooperation,” said Tsvangirai spokesman William Bango. He said Mr. Tsvangirai voiced confidence that the party would pull through its crisis with help from a new mediation committee.
But some diplomats harbored doubts, as the opposing faction led by MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube has repeatedly rebuffed the latest mediation effort.
Divisions in the MDC intensified following an Oct. 12 vote by its National Committee on whether to take part in the Nov. 26 elections for a reconstituted senate. Mr. Tsvangirai overrode a narrow majority for contesting the elections, saying the new upper house would waste funds and reinforce the grip on power of President Robert Mugabe.
Mr. Ncube argued that the opposition could ill afford to cede any electoral terrain to Mr. Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF.
Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Mr. Tsvangirai whether the mediation team was making any headway towards an intra-party solution.