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South African Presidential Aides Fly Home After 24-Hour Intervention in Harare

In a new broadside aimed at President Mugabe on Thursday, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the president’s call for new elections next year is merely a tactic to harass the Zimbabwean people

South African President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team for Zimbabwe mediation flew home on Thursday after 24 hours in Harare during which its members met with all three unity government principals to discuss the political crisis over what Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai charges are unilateral appointments by President Robert Mugabe.

The facilitation team returned to South Africa with a letter from Mr. Tsvangirai to Mr. Zuma, mediator on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, charging that Mr. Mugabe has named ambassadors, governors and judges in disregard of the 2008 Global Political Agreement on power sharing which the MDC says mandates consultation.

Team member and Zuma foreign policy adviser Lindiwe Zulu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the main purpose of the visit was to monitor the implementation of the power-sharing pact.

Reached by VOA, presidential spokesman George Charamba and ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said they had not been briefed on the situation therefore could not comment.

Meanwhile, in a new broadside aimed at President Mugabe on Thursday, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the president’s call for new elections next year is merely a tactic to harass the Zimbabwean people.

From Harare, correspondent Mark Peter Thambe reported that hundreds turned out at as Tsvangirai led members of his Movement for Democratic Change formation in burying Constance Taruvinga, organizing secretary for the party in the St. Mary's district of Chitungwiza, near Harare, who died Tuesday of injuries sustained in a September 11 car crash in which three other party officials were killed. They were returning from an MDC event in Gweru.

Meanwhile, members of the European Parliament have urged European Union President Jose Manuel Barroso to step up pressure on Mr. Mugabe by rejecting the credentials of Harare’s ambassador to Brussels, Margaret Muchada.

EU Member of Parliament Geoffrey Van Orden, head of the assembly’s Campaign for Freedom and Democratic change in Zimbabwe, urged Mr. Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to reject Muchada’s credentials on grounds that her appointment was unconstitutional, as Mr. Tsvangirai has maintained.

"As Prime Minister Tsvangirai's recent statements illustrate, not much seems to have changed on the ground following the signing of the Global Political Agreement two years ago," said Van Orden.

"Mugabe still grasps the levers of power and manages to trample on the basic rights of the Zimbabwean people. Key elements of the Zimbabwean state - in this instance one of Zimbabwe's most important diplomatic postings - are still controlled by Mugabe, in outright contravention of the GPA."

"Until Mugabe and his cronies step aside and there is real evidence of change, the EU and its member states must keep up the pressure on Mugabe," Van Orden said, urging the EU to "send a clear signal to the Mugabe clique that the EU does not tolerate despots." He urged Italy, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland to do the same.

Mr. Tsvangirai sent an official letter to the EU this week maintaining that the Zimbabwean envoy’s appointment should be regarded as "null and void" because Mr. Mugabe appointed her in disregard of the GPA.

British-based lawyer and commentator Julius Mutyambizi-Dewa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the Euro-MPs are correct to urge Europe’s top officials to challenge unilateral appointments by Mr. Mugabe.