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South African Facilitators Back In Zimbabwe As Power-Sharing Parties Miss Deadline

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Facilitation team member Lindiwe Zulu, a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Zuma, told VOA that her team was in the Zimbabwean capital to take delivery of a report by party negotiators detailing results of power-sharing talks

A South African facilitation team was back in Zimbabwe Monday to resume work with negotiators for ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change on resolving differences over power-sharing amid concerns the talks may not reach a successful conclusion by the deadline set by South African President Jacob Zuma.

Facilitation team member Lindiwe Zulu, a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Zuma, told VOA that her team was in the Zimbabwean capital to take delivery of a report by party negotiators detailing the results of the talks. If there are unresolved issues, her team will press for results that are “acceptable” to Mr. Zuma, she said.

Sources said chances of a breakthrough appeared slim despite Mr. Zuma’s announcement earlier this month that the parties had agreed a "package of measures" that could be on rapidly implemented to resolve outstanding issues. But last week President Robert Mugabe seemed to be disavowing the Zuma-brokered agreement.

Reached by VOA, Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma, a negotiator for the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, declined to comment on the status of the talks, as did Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga of the rival MDC formation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

But Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, top negotiator for Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, told Reuters that the parties had failed to meet President Zuma's March 29 deadline after marathon meetings, and would continue their discussions on Tuesday.

Political analyst Immanuel Hlabangana told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that despite such setbacks, President Zuma would eventually obtain binding concessions from ZANU-PF.

Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations, meanwhile, sought a meeting with Mr. Zuma in his capacity Southern African Development Community mediator to voice their concerns over an upsurge in violence and suggest ways to stop the trend.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Chairman Macdonald Lewanika said civil society feels the unity government is unable to provide protection against such violence, so civic leaders must appeal to President Zuma.

Activists say incidents of violence have been on the rise along with arbitrary arrests of members of the MDC, trade unionists, artists and rights activists.

Lewanika told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that it is in Mr. Zuma’s interest to take concrete action to curb political violence with the World Cup of Football coming up fast in South Africa.

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