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S. African President Zuma Heads To Zimbabwe Hoping To Break Political Impasse

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Divisions within Zimbabwe’s unity government have deepened following Mr. Mugabe’s unilateral redistribution of ministerial powers from portfolios held by the Movement for Democratic Change to those held by his ZANU-PF party

South African President Jacob Zuma will go to Harare next week in hopes of resolving the impasse within the Zimbabwean unity government over a broad range of issues including a recent shuffle of ministerial portfolios by President Robert Mugabe.

Aides to Mr. Zuma told VOA that he will send a team of facilitators ahead of him to prepare the ground for his visit. Mr. Zuma, designated Zimbabwe mediator by the Southern African Development Community, will meet with President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

Divisions within Zimbabwe’s unity government have deepened in recent days following Mr. Mugabe’s unilateral redistribution of ministerial powers from portfolios held by the Movement for Democratic Change to those held by his ZANU-PF party.

Zuma foreign policy adviser Lindiwe Zulu, one of the South African facilitators, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Mr. Zuma is confident he can break the deadlock threatening the longevity of the inclusive government in Harare.

Mr. Zuma recently lobbied in Britain for the lifting of European Union travel and financial sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and his inner circle. But the EU wants to see more convincing democratic and political reform and implementation of the Global Political Agreement.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti, lead negotiator in talks with the other unity partners on behalf of the Tsvangirai MDC formation, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that intra-governmental talks are at a standstill, adding that Mr. Zuma’s intervention is critical.

But political analyst Phillan Zamchiya of Oxford University in Britain said the chances Mr. Zuma will be able to break the political impasse in Harare are slim, so the only solution may be new elections.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai briefed foreign diplomats on Wednesday at his MDC formation's headquarters on the successes of the unity government - and the serious challenges the power-sharing arrangement faces.

He said talks within the government have collapsed, contrary to Mr. Mugabe’s recent assurances that the negotiations were on track. Mr. Tsvangirai called for mechanisms to be put in place ahead of possible new elections in 2011 to prevent violence.

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