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Longtime South African ally rebukes Mugabe for violence

June 25, 2008|By a Times Staff Writer

HARARE, ZIMBABWE — International support for President Robert Mugabe continued to deteriorate Tuesday as a longtime regional ally issued a condemnation of the Zimbabwean government's violence against opposition supporters.

Jacob Zuma, leader of the African National Congress in neighboring South Africa, said that Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party had veered away from the shared values that came out of their nations' liberation struggles.

"We cannot agree with ZANU-PF. We cannot agree with them on values," Zuma said at a news conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. "We fought for the right of people to vote, we fought for democracy."

His stance stood in contrast to that of South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has avoided voicing strong criticism of Mugabe. However, South Africa participated Monday in a unanimous United Nations Security Council vote that condemned violence and intimidation by Zimbabwe's government.

The rebuke from Zuma, his nation's presidential heir apparent, is likely to send reverberations through ZANU-PF, which has always relied on other African liberation movements for support.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade on Monday urged that Zimbabwe's presidential runoff election scheduled for Friday be postponed, echoing comments by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who warned Sunday that a catastrophe was looming in Zimbabwe.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the current U.N. Security Council president, said Zimbabwe could face tougher measures if it fails to heed the council's warning that free and fair elections were not possible at this time.

In South Africa, the ANC released a statement saying the party is "deeply dismayed by the actions of the government of Zimbabwe, which is riding roughshod over the hard-won democratic rights of the people of that country."

"The ugly incidents and scenes that have been visited on the people of Zimbabwe persuade us that a runoff presidential election offers no solution to Zimbabwe's crisis," the statement said.

But the ANC warned against international intervention: "It has always been and continues to be the view of our movement that the challenges facing Zimbabwe can only be solved by the Zimbabweans themselves."

South Africa's COSATU trade union federation, allied with the ANC, said it would campaign for total isolation of Mugabe. It called on all the world's trade unions "to make sure that they never ever serve Mugabe anywhere, including at airports, restaurants, shops, etc."

"Further we call on all workers and citizens of the world never to allow Mugabe to set foot in their countries."

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