A diplomatic spat has emerged between Harare and Pretoria after President Robert Mugabe and state-controlled media aligned with his ZANU-PF party publicly criticized the mediation role in Zimbabwe of South African President Jacob Zuma, calling him a dishonest broker.
Responding to calls by the Southern African Development Community troika on politics, defense and security last week to end political violence and implement the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing in full, Mr. Mugabe declared that neither Mr. Zuma nor SADC could dictate to Harare as Zimbabwe is a sovereign state.
The state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper launched a blistering attack on Mr. Zuma saying his role as SADC mediator “is not to meddle and dictate.”
The newspaper, which reflects ZANU-PF thinking, said in an unusually harsh editorial that Mr. Zuma has no mandate to craft an election road map for Zimbabwe.
Mr. Zuma and a South African team of facilitators have been working on a road map that they hope will allow Zimbabwe to hold free and fair elections.
The Sunday Mail also criticized Mr. Zuma for endorsing the United Nations Security Council resolution that imposed a no-fly zone on Libya, calling his behavior “erratic and disconcerting.” It also took aim at Mr. Zuma's often-messy personal life,m saying he was a "disaster-prone" leader who was unable to manage his personal affairs.
Responding, Zuma foreign policy adviser Lindiwe Zulu said Monday that President Zuma was not fazed by the criticism from Harare, adding that he will continue his mediation role aiming to find a lasting solution to Zimbabwe’s protracted political crisis.
Zulu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Mr. Mugabe should concentrate on implementing the GPA instead of picking a fight with Mr. Zuma.
"Mr. Zuma will not engage in a public spate with anyone. Those aggrieved should direct their concerns to him directly," Zulu said.
Political analyst Mlamuli Nkomo said that despite Mr. Mugabe’s outburst, SADC should put pressure on him to ensure he adheres to the power-sharing pact.