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Looming Interim Deadline In Zimbabwe Crisis Talks Increases Pressure

South African officials are likely to push harder for progress in crisis talks between the Harare government and ruling party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change that pick up later this week, sources said. Officials of the ruling ZANU-PF party only Monday submitted a position paper two months after it was due.

The ruling party has been accused of stalling, but senior ZANU-PF sources said internal divisions over the mediation process delayed the submission.

Sources in the ruling party told VOA that its demands include recognition of President Robert Mugabe by the opposition as Zimbabwe’s legitimate leader, and denunciation by MDC leaders of the the targeted travel and financial sanctions imposed by the United States, Europe and others on Mr. Mugabe and his inner circle.

The government blames sanctions for the collapse of the economy, though most economists blame fast-track land reform, poor governance and corruption.

The submission of ZANU-PF's demands paves the way for a second round of talks between the parties to the mediation process. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Labor Minister Nicholas Goche will represent Harare in the talks Friday in Pretoria.

They will face the two secretaries general of the divided Movement for Democratic Change, Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube. South African Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi will chair those talks as to the substantive agenda.

The Southern African Development Community expects a progress report on June 30 from Mr. Mbeki, whom it appointed Zimbabwe crisis mediator in March.

But former information minister Jonathan Moyo, expelled from the ruling party for challenging Mr. Mugabe in late 2004 over the president’s choice of Joyce Mujuru as vice president, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he believes not much can be expected from the Mbeki mediation effort.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...