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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Mugabe rival meets SA's Mbeki
Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai wants African leaders to put pressure on Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has met President Thabo Mbeki in the South African capital, Pretoria.

It is the first trip abroad Mr Tsvangirai has made for three years.

His passport was confiscated when he was charged with treason in early 2002 but it was returned to him earlier this week following his acquittal.

Meanwhile, a South African trade union delegation says it will visit Zimbabwe despite objections from Harare.

A spokesman for Mr Mbeki refused to divulge any details of the talks.

President Mbeki is an important mediator in the Zimbabwean crisis, though his quiet and relatively uncritical approach to the economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe has not gone down well in the West, correspondents say.

It has also prompted criticism from within South Africa, especially from trade unions.

Frustration

Despite widespread human rights abuses and economic mismanagement in Zimbabwe, most southern African leaders have been supportive of the government of President Robert Mugabe, with whom they have historical ties.

Mr Tsvangirai, who came to prominence as a union leader, has been frustrated that he has not been able to travel and put the opposition's case to regional leaders.

During his trip he intends to update regional leaders on events in his country.

Mr Tsvangirai is also visiting Mauritius, to meet Prime Minister Paul Berenger, the current chairman of the Southern African regional body, the SADC.

Other meetings are being scheduled with the leaders of Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and Tanzania.

Defiance

In Johannesburg, the members of a Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) fact-finding delegation vowed to go ahead with a visit to Zimbabwe to discuss elections due next year.

Cosatu president Willie Madisha
President Mbeki has had strained relations with his Cosatu allies
On Friday, President Robert Mugabe's government told them that their visit was "not acceptable".

But Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said the delegation met and "expressed outrage and agreed that Cosatu did not need permission for a visit which aimed to meet a broad range of organisations representing labour, civil society and government".

"We want to get an accurate picture of the situation in the country and make a contribution to resolving some of the problems facing Zimbabwe, particularly with its trade unions," he told AFP news agency.




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