Zimbabwean prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the dominant formation of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said Tuesday that the African Union should take over mediation of the country's power-sharing process from the Southern African Development Community, saying it has failed as an impartial regional deal-broker.
Tsvangirai had earlier demanded that SADC replace Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president, in the mediating role he assumed in the Zimbabwean crisis since March 2007 and which was expanded to power-sharing mediator in the wake of the March-June election cycle in which President Robert Mugabe controversially claimed re-election.
He issued his latest broadside against the Southern African leadership in Senegal, where he was holding talks with President Abdoulaye Wade.
A senior official of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party expressed shock at Tsvangirai's statement, noting that negotiators for ZANU-PF, Tsvangirai's MDC formation and a rival formation led by deputy prime minister-designate Arthur Mutambara only last week agreed on language for a constitutional amendment needed to launch an "all-inclusive" unity government.
But Tsvangirai MDC insiders told VOA the party wants to pressure SADC to remove Mbeki as the power-sharing partners seek to resolve outstanding issues including the equitable distribution of ministerial posts, and appointments of ambassadors and governors.
But international relations expert David Monyae of Harare told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Tsvangirai’s demand for the African Union to supplant SADC looked like a delaying tactic and is likely to be counter-productive.