The Zimbabwean Herald (July 3) reported that the UN would support efforts by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa to mediate and mend relations between Zimbabwe and Britain. The paper went on: ‘Relations between Zimbabwe and Britain have been on ice since 2000 after Harare embarked on the land reform programme to correct historical imbalances caused by the colonial system in the ownership of land. Mr Annan told journalists at a Press conference that Comrade Mugabe had, during their meeting on the sidelines of the recent African Union Summit in the Gambia, told him that Mr Mkapa would mediate. Mr Annan said the UN would support his efforts and “we both agreed that he should be given the space and time he needs”. The British Government, despite a close relationship between Mkapa and Tony Blair, was said to have opposed the proposal. British Minister responsible for Africa Lord Triesman said it was unfortunate that the UN Secretary General did not take up the job himself. A diplomatic officer with the British High Commission in Zimbabwe said that there was no conflict between Britain and Zimbabwe and so there was nothing to mediate.’

President Mkapa has been nominated as the Patron of the UN Committee for the 2008 ‘International Year of Planet Earth’. The other co-patron is another retired president, Sam Nujoma of Namibia. Tanzania is also among 17 nations appointed by the UN to form the Secretariat.

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