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Tanzanian Envoy To Harare Urges Patience On Mkapa Mediation Mission

Tanzania's outgoing envoy to Zimbabwe, Hashim Iddi Mbita, confirmed Tuesday that former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa has undertaken a mediation role in the Zimbabwe crisis at the behest of President Robert Mugabe, but cautioned that observers should give Mkapa time to organize and advance his initiative.

President Mugabe, meanwhile, has accused British Prime Minister Tony Blair of bad faith in relation to the bilateral talks which Harare has proposed. Mr. Mugabe blames Zimbabwe's deep economic crisis on the sanctions imposed by Britain as well as the United States and Europe, and maintains that sanctions were imposed in response to Zimbabwean land reform, rather than on account of human rights violations.

Mkapa has backing of the African National Congress in South Africa and sources said he is likely to be endorsed by the Southern African Development Community.

But some analysts warned Mkapa’s mission would be an exercise in futility, given that British diplomats say the two countries have no bilateral issues to discuss. The pro-government Daily Mirror of Harare quoted Mugabe as complaining that Blair refused to talk about outstanding issues related to land reform because the Labor government in Blair's view is not responsible for policies put in place by its predecessors.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Ambassador Mbita why he believed more time would enable Mkapa to succeed in his mission.

A different perspective came from British-based human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga, who said giving Mkapa time merely plays into Mr. Mugabe’s hands.

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