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Expanded Role Seen for S. Africa's Zuma in Zimbabwe Unity Gov't Patchup

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

South African President Jacob Zuma is expected to take a leading role in monitoring follow-through by the partners in Zimbabwe's government of national unity in implementing a deal concluded late Thursday in Maputo, Mozambique, by the GNU principals with the help of the Southern African Development Community troika on politics.

A communiqué issued by the SADC committee said the unity government principals "should engage in dialogue with immediate effect within 15 days (but) not beyond 30 days.”

Some have taken this to mean the parties have committed themselves to reach agreement on outstanding issues in that 30-day window, though the language is ambiguous.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said after the SADC troika meeting that his movement for Democratic Change Formation would restore normal relations with the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe. Mr. Tsvangirai declared Oct. 16 that his party was disengaging from ZANU-PF over its alleged violations of the power-sharing agreement.

SADC sources said African leaders at the meeting, who included President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, troika chairman, and Mr. Zuma told the Zimbabwean leaders not to set pre-conditions to negotiations, as as both wanted their grievances to be addressed first.

Sources informed on the Maputo talks said President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai traded recriminations during the discussions, the president complaining that the MDC had not done enough to bring about the lifting of Western travel and financial restrictions, and the prime minister alleging a calculated ZANU-PF crackdown on members of his party.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, head of a rival MDC formation to Mr. Tsvangirai's, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that he is confident the GNU will now succeed.

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa commended the regional organization for its mediation in the crisis. But ZANU-PF Deputy Spokesman Ephraim Masawi called MDC officials crybabies and accused them of being controlled by the West.

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

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