President Jacob Zuma of South Africa's ruling African National Congress party said at a gathering of global leaders in Davos, Switzerland, that the United States and Europe had hindered South Africa's attempt to broker a Zimbabwe political solution, and additionally charged that the alleged interference was tinged with racism.
"The US and Europeans tell us what we need to do and tell (Zimbabwean President Robert) Mugabe," Zuma told journalists on the sidelines of the annual gathering of business and political leaders in Davos, a swank Swiss ski resort.
"That undermines our efforts," Zuma continued, adding that the alleged meddling by the U.S. and Europe contained "an element of racism."
But Zimbabwe opposition figures called Zuma's remarks unfortunate and misleading, saying that if blame were to be assigned for the lack of progress or failure of the talks, Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party should be held to account.
Sources in Pretoria said an effort by South African Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi, point man for President Thabo Mbeki in mediating the talks, returned from Harare empty-handed after trying to salvage the negotiations with another appeal to President Mugabe to compromise by postponing national elections.
Mr. Mugabe announced late this week that they will be held March 29.
National Director Earnest Mudzengi of the National Constitutional Assembly, which opposed concessions by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the talks to show its good faith, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he saw Zuma’s remarks as an attempt to displace blame for the failure of the talks.