Negotiators for Zimbabwe's ruling party and opposition
met for a second session of talks on Friday to lay the groundwork for substantive discussions on a power-sharing solution to the country's post-election crisis, government and political party sources said.
The talks continued under the chairmanship South African Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi, sitting in on behalf of President Thabo Mbeki, the official
mediator for the Southern African Development Community since March 2007, when an earlier crisis erupted.
sources said SADC’s troika or three-country committee on regional security might meet early next
week to review progress including consideration of an African Union role in the
mediation process. It was not clear if Mr. Mbeki would join that
meeting. Sources said he is not keen on expanding the mediation
process, which could dilute his mediation brief.
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been critical of Mr. Mbeki’s mediation
and urged the appointment of a permanent A.U. envoy to guide the process, has
emphasized that these talks are only preliminary, noting that political
violence continues to claim the lives of members of his Movement for Democratic
Change. He said continued violence could lead the combined MDC to reconsider
participation in the talks. The MDC said Friday that the death toll of
opposition activists has risen to 114 victims since elections on March 29.
state-controlled Herald newspaper Friday accused Tsvangirai of flip-flopping on
the talks, Tsvangirai told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that his
message is consistent.
Meanwhile, the government warned that increased international sanctions against Harare could
lead to civil war. The U.N. Security Council was to meet again Friday to
consider a draft resolution for additional financial and travel restrictions
against President Robert Mugabe and 13 other senior officials implicated in the three-month wave
of political violence.
mission to the U.N. said in a letter to the Security Council that the sanctions
could lead to the removal of the effective government of the country and lead
to a civil war. It said the proposed punitive measures could turn Zimbabwe into
another Somalia, referring to the clashes that have continued for 17 years between warring factions
as the preliminary crisis talks proceeded in Pretoria, the Tsvangirai MDC
formation said the bodies of two missing members were discovered on Thursday in
Kuwadzana, Harare, and Mutoko in Mashonaland East province. The body
found in Kuwadzana has been identified as that of MDC polling agent Gift Mutsvungunu, who disappeared
party said Mutsvungunu’s decomposing body showed signs he had been tortured: his eyes had been gouged out, and his
backside sustained serious burns.
MDC said the latest discoveries bring to 114 the number of opposition activists
killed since the March general and presidential elections in which the
opposition claimed a majority in the lower house of parliament and Tsvangirai
outpolled President Mugabe.
the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said violence against its members
has continued, especially in rural areas, despite calls for the dismantling of
torture camps set up by the ruling party militia in schools.
PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that in Gutu, Masvingo
province, teachers were badly beaten by militia and later forced to eat
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...