The Southern African Development Community has drafted South African President Jacob Zuma into Thursday's meeting of SADC's troika on politics, defense and security in Maputo, Mozambique, on Thursday, regional sources said, increasing the leverage of the heads of state who will be trying to resolve the crisis in Harare's unity government.
Heads of state meeting in Maputo will also include President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is currently SADC's chairman. Presidents Kabila and Zuma will join Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, who is chairman of the troika or committee, President Rupia Banda of Zambia and King Mswati of Swaziland.
Informed sources said SADC has become concerned at the crackdown on political and civil opponents of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party following the declaration Oct. 16 by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of a “disengagement” by his Movement for Democratic Change from ZANU-PF, its partner and adversary in the inclusive government.
Mr. Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, head of a rival MDC grouping, arrived in Maputo on Wednesday along with Finance Minister Tendai Biti, secretary general of Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation, and and Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman, secretary general of the Mutambara MDC wing, among other top officials.
President Mugabe was expected to fly to Maputo Thursday with Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Harare sources said.
SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao confirmed to reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Presidents Zuma and Kabila will be in attendance adding that while in Maputo the heads of state will also discuss democratic issues in Lesotho. Political analyst Teresa Mugadza of Harare said the direct involvement of Presidents Zuma and Kabila shows that SADC is taking the Zimbabwe political crisis seriously.
Elsewhere, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa has called on SADC to deploy an ad hoc delegation to Zimbabwe to probe reports of political violence while regional leaders continue to seek a solution to the power-sharing crisis.
Open Society spokeswoman Nicole Fritz told VOA Studio reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that her organisation is concerned Zimbabwe could slide back into the political chaos seen in 2008 following national elections if the government crisis is not ended soon.
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...