16/04/2008 07:27 - (SA)
Harare - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai expressed shock and bewilderment on Tuesday at remarks by South African President Thabo Mbeki indicating there was no crisis in his homeland.
"I'm sure Zimbabweans and the international community were shocked at the conclusion of that statement," Tsvangirai said in an interview with South Africa's e.tv channel.
"I'm sure that such a misrepresentation creates the perception of quiet approval, which I think is quite shocking," he said.
"I can't explain what informs his position; because that kind of position runs contradictory to my interaction with him."
Mbeki had been widely criticised for his stance towards Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, whom he met on Saturday in Harare while on his way to a regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit to discuss the situation.
"There is no crisis in Zimbabwe," Mbeki told journalists at the time. "The body authorised to release the results is the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, let's wait for them to announce the results."
Duarte contradicts Mbeki
On Monday night, a spokesperson for Mbeki's own ruling African National Congress directly contradicted the president's remarks at a meeting of the party's central working committee.
"The ANC regards the (Zimbabwe) ruling party Zanu-PF as an ally. However, it is concerned with the state of crisis that Zimbabwe is in and perceives this as negative for the entire SADC region," said spokesperson Jesse Duarte.
She watered down her remarks in a formal written statement on Tuesday, saying the ANC, "regards the situation in Zimbabwe as dire, with negative consequences for the SADC region".
Mbeki was the chief mediator between Zimbabwe's governing Zanu-PF party and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the build-up to the election and was asked to continue his role by SADC at the weekend summit in Lusaka.
"If there was no crisis why was he appointed the mediator? That's one; two, if there was no crisis why would he want Zimbabwe to go to the SADC's extraordinary meeting?
"If there was no crisis why would the SADC be concerned about what was happening in Zimbabwe?" said Tsvangirai.