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Page last updated at 11:20 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 12:20 UK

Zuma refuses to criticise Mugabe

Jacob Zuma speaking outside Downing Street

The leader of South Africa's governing ANC party, Jacob Zuma, has refused to blame Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe for recent poll-related violence.

Speaking to the BBC during a visit to London, Mr Zuma said the violence in Zimbabwe was unacceptable, but he was not prepared to judge individuals.

He added that South Africa had done more than anybody else to help.

Mr Zuma is in London for talks with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown which are expected to centre on Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's electoral commission still has not issued the results of the March presidential poll.

The opposition MDC says its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the poll outright and accuses supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF of voter intimidation and beatings ahead of an expected second round.

We are doing something more than anybody else in reality. Other people are doing absolutely nothing
Jacob Zuma

Although Mr Zuma said ahead of his meeting with Mr Brown that the delay in publishing election results in Zimbabwe was unacceptable, he also said the delay was not Mr Mugabe's fault.

"The delay in announcing the results, it is, in actual fact, the electoral commission, it's not Mugabe's job to announce the results," Mr Zuma told the BBC's Today programme.

Mr Zuma said Zimbabwe needed more outside help to resolve its political crisis, and urged leaders of African countries to do more to break the political deadlock there.

"We are doing something more than anybody else in reality," he said. "Other people are doing absolutely nothing."

He also said he was happy with the way South African President Thabo Mbeki had handled the situation, saying Mr Mbeki was a mediator and could not take sides over Zimbabwe.

Reluctance

On Tuesday, church leaders in Zimbabwe called for international action to prevent post-election violence developing into genocidal proportions.

ZIMBABWE'S NEIGHBOURS

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Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has been under fire over March's disputed elections. His neighbours have been supportive but regional differences are now emerging.

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South Africa's President Mbeki is the key Zimbabwe mediator. He has refused to criticise Robert Mugabe but the ruling ANC, and trade unions have urged him to take a stronger line.

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Zambian President Mwanawasa has taken the region's strongest line on Zimbabwe. His call for Africa not to let a ship carrying weapons to Zimbabwe dock will outrage President Mugabe.

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Angola's government has close ties to Zimbabwe's ruling party - both came to power after fighting colonial rule in the 1970s.

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Botswana is not seen as an ally of Robert Mugabe. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai fled here after polls.

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Namibia is a close ally of Zimbabwe - it too is planning to redistribute white-owned farms to black villagers.


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Mozambique has hosted some white farmers forced from Zimbabwe and is seen as relatively sympathetic to Zimbabwe's opposition.

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Tanzania's ruling party has a long history of close ties to Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and is unlikely to criticise him.

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DR Congo's President Joseph Kabila is an ally of Robert Mugabe, who sent troops to help his father, Laurent Kabila, fight rebels.

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Malawi is seen as neutral. But some 3m people of Malawian origin are in Zimbabwe, mostly farmworkers who have lost their jobs and were sometimes assaulted during farm invasions.

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Mr Mbeki has previously been accused of taking too soft a line with President Mugabe.

Mr Zuma's reluctance to speak out while in London is perhaps understandable, says BBC diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall, as it is British hostility which Mr Mugabe claims is the root cause of the problem.

Post-election violence in Zimbabwe has displaced 3,000 people, injured 500 and left 10 dead, according to MDC secretary general Tendai Biti.

Human rights groups say they have found camps where people are being tortured for having voted "the wrong way".

But Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa denies that anyone had died in political violence.

Meanwhile, the state-run Herald newspaper in Zimbabwe has called for the establishment of a transitional government of national unity, under Mr Mugabe.

In an editorial, the Herald says political tensions following the election make it impossible to hold a free and fair run-off in the near future.




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