Former South African leader Thabo Mbeki is said to have held a private meeting with some of the top security chiefs on Tuesday, amid growing concerns in the southern African region over worsening Zanu PF succession wars, the Daily News can report.
Mbeki flew into the country with a group of investors at the invitation of Mugabe on Monday, at least according to the South African embassy, although official sources insisted that the former African National Congress president’s visit was more than just introducing investors.
He is said to have met with the top brass of the security sector although details of their meeting have remained sketchy.
The rare meeting, however, came as Mugabe had last Thursday fiercely and publicly expressed his irritation with the military chiefs for meddling in Zanu PF politics before he warned them to stay out of his party’s business.
Cabinet ministers canvassed by the Daily News yesterday said details of the meeting between Mbeki, his host (Mugabe) and the generals were being kept a closely-guarded secret.
Mbeki enjoys excellent relations with Mugabe and played a crucial role in persuading the 93-year-old to sign the 2008 Global Political Agreement, which led to the formation of a unity government in February 2009 between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations.
This was after Zimbabwe had been thrown into a crisis following Mugabe’s decision to stage a one-man election in the 2008 June run-off in which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out days before polling, citing massive violence against his supporters.
Mugabe had lost to Tsvangirai in the first round of the poll whose results were withheld for six weeks but survived because the MDC president had failed to get an outright majority.
Attempts to get a comment from Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba, were futile.
“What was discussed in the meeting was private but it was quite clear that Cde Mbeki had a few words to share with the generals and the president,” said the official.
Political analysts yesterday told the Daily News that the presence of Mbeki was telling and symbolic.
Constitutional law expert and former Tsvangirai advisor Alex Magaisa said it was unprecedented that a former foreign head of state would engage the generals in a meeting.
“It demonstrates that there is a problem, which has reached crisis proportions. Mbeki has always been a friend of Zanu PF and he probably came in to be a mediator between the squabbling factions,” Magaisa told the Daily News.