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  • Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign

  • Statement of the arrest of Zimbabwean Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai
    Tony Leon, Democratic Alliance (South Africa)
    March 12, 2007

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    The arrest and detention yesterday [Sunday] of [Zimbabwean Opposition] Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai should serve as a final wake call to President Mbeki that he simply cannot afford continue with a business as usual approach to dealing with the growing crisis in Zimbabwe.

    The South Africa government needs to immediately condemn this latest crackdown on a legitimate democratic protest and call for the immediate release of Mr Tsvangirai.

    Mr Tsvangirai's arrest is a complete negation of the multi-party approach which President Mbeki has held up to the world as a solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe. If we fail to act and to speak out, then it will become clear to the international community that the South African government's policy of "silent diplomacy" is nothing more than "quiet approval".

    Pretoria also needs to send the message that the government of Zimbabwe will be held accountable for any injuries caused to Mr Tsvangirai or to the group of up to a 100 people who were arrested yesterday.

    Mr Tsvangirai's arrest and alleged beating at the hands of the Zimbabwean security forces is another in a long list of examples of brutal and unwarranted attacks on its own citizens by the Mugabe regime. This incident, combined with its total ban on any public demonstrations, is the clearest indication yet that the Mugabe government is becoming increasingly desperate in its attempts to cling to power.

    President Mbeki's policy of quiet diplomacy has yielded little or no progress in resolving the impasse in Zimbabwe. In fact, every commitment President Mbeki has made to a number of international actors, including US President George W Bush, about an imminent resolution of the conflict has failed to come to fruition.

    It is now clear that President Mbeki has all but given up trying to resolve the conflict. This is an extraordinary derogation of duty by the region's most significant power, the disastrous consequences of which are being felt by both Zimbabweans and South Africans everyday.

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