Tony Blair planned to invade Zimbabwe with South African support and oust Robert Mugabe after the country descended into chaos, it was claimed yesterday.
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki said Mr Blair asked for his help in 2000. But Mr Mbeki favoured a negotiated settlement and, despite pressure from Britain to join military action to depose Mr Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party, he refused.
During his presidency from 1999 until 2008 he said South Africa and Britain were in stark disagreement over how to handle Mugabe. He added: ‘The problem was, we were speaking from different positions.
‘There were other people saying, “There are political problems, economic problems – the best way to solve them is regime change. Mugabe must go”. This was the difference. ‘But we said, “Mugabe is part of the solution to this problem”.’
The South African government helped to broker a power-sharing agreement between Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Chang (MDC) in 2008. It later collapsed.