Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has entered into discussions with the newly elected president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, nominated this week as his party's presidential candidate in 2009 elections.
Well-informed sources in the African National Congress said Tsvangirai met recently in Pretoria, South Africa, with Zuma and Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, or COSATU.
Tsvangirai had called Zuma last month to congratulate him after the populist defeated South African President Thabo Mbeki in a battle for leadership of the ANC.
But the ANC sources said the founder of the Movement for Democratic Change was treading on "very dangerous ground,” as he risks being pulled into the bitter wrangle between Mbeki and Zuma for control of South Africa’s national political agenda.
Mbeki did not show up for the ANC council meeting at which Zuma was designated the party’s presidential candidate, though he is an ex-officio member of the body.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of Tsvangirai's faction of the MDC said the formation works with the African National Congress on an organizational level, not through individuals, declining to comment on the reported contacts with Zuma.
Analyst Peter Kagwanja, director of democracy and governance programs at the Human Sciences Research Council in Pretoria told reporter Blessing Zulu the MDC hopes for a policy shift on Zimbabwe if Zuma becomes South African president.
But Kagwanja urged caution on the part of the MDC as Zuma might ultimately stick to Mbeki's approach of "quiet diplomacy" on South Africa's neighbor to the north.