Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Tuesday for an extraordinary summit of the African Union focused on the Libyan crisis.
He was expected to take the opportunity to do some damage control with South Africa following tensions over that country’s role in pressing for reforms in Zimbabwe.
President Mugabe is expected to meet with South African Vice President Kgalema Motlanthe, who is representing President Jacob Zuma at the AU summit.
Relations between Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and Mr. Zuma's African National Congress chilled recently as ZANU-PF hardliners resumed sniping at Mr. Zuma and his aides who have been facilitating power-sharing talks within the Harare government.
ZANU-PF hardliners called Mr. Zuma a dishonest broker after a SADC troika meeting in Livingstone, Zambia, last month issued a communique rebuking Mr. Mugabe for political violence and urging him to step up the pace of democratic reforms.
The state-controlled, ZANU-PF leaning Sunday Mail newspaper said Vice President John Nkomo and Party Chairman Simon Khaya Moyo complained to the ANC charging that Mr. Zuma's foreign policy aide Lindiwe Zulu had made “reckless and inflammatory remarks” subsequently published in an ANC publication. It said Zuma's facilitators were worried about the consequences for reform if Mr. Mugabe were removed from the scene.
Zulu told VOA that the African National Congress has received no such complaint.
The Sunday Mail accused Zulu of meddling in Zimbabwean politics, declaring that her "wings should be clipped" A ZANU-PF position paper seeking to marginalize Mr. Zuma at the just-ended SADC summit in Namibia - Mr. Zuma excused himself saying he was tied up with local elections - backfired as regional leaders backed the mediator.
ZANU-PF moderates are urging Mr. Mugabe not to antagonize Pretoria. Party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, considered to be a relative moderate within the former ruling party, distanced himself from the alleged complaint about Lindiwe Zulu’s conduct.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga said divisions in ZANU-PF are deepening as international pressure for reform mounts.