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South Africa's Zuma, Zambia's Banda, to Confer in Pretoria on Zimbabwe Crisis

Sources said Mr. Zuma urged the Harare principals to draft a road map to free and fair elections to select a government with full powers, and that he envisioned an expanded role for SADC in that ballot

South African President Jacob Zuma, mediating dialogue in Zimbabwe for the Southern African Development Community, will meet this week with Zambian President Rupiah Banda, chairman of the so-called SADC troika on politics, defense and security on which Mr. Zuma also sits, to discuss the crisis in Harare, sources said Monday.

Mr. Zuma, who visited Harare last week, will update Mr. Banda Thursday on progress ending the stalemate in Harare. Mr. Zuma has said he persuaded President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, to resume one-on-one talks.

Mr. Banda and Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, the third troika member, failed to show up for a meeting on Zimbabwe in Gaborone, Botswana two weeks ago.

After meetings Friday with the Harare principals, including Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, Mr. Zuma said he had managed to resolve a number of issues including the breakdown in communications between Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai, who for a month had been boycotting the customary Monday talks the two had held.

Sources said Mr. Zuma urged the principals to come up with a clear road map to free and fair elections for the country to select a government with full powers. He is also said to have urged wider involvement by SADC in the next round of elections.

Lindiwe Zulu, a foreign policy advisor to Mr. Zuma, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Mr. Zuma and Mr. Banda will decide the way forward for their panel in seeking resolution to the longrunning political conflict in Harare.

"Indeed President Zuma will take up the Zimbabwean issue with Mr. Banda as chairman of the troika when he comes to South Africa this week, aiming to move the process forward," Zulu said.

Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said the Southern African Development Community has lost credibility, having failed to act decisively on Zimbabwe in the past. He said he doubted that the Zuma-Banda meeting would yield significant results.

Many in Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change have lost faith in SADC and in the wake of the letdown in Gaborone the party is appealing to a higher power, drafting and circulating a prayer for guidance to help Zimbabwe achieve democracy.

The prayer says in part that Zimbabweans have suffered much "at the hands of men who have turned from God's word and wisdom."

Earlier this month, Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, a widely feared stalwart of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF, also struck a religious chord telling a funeral gathering that he had found comfort in the arms of God.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Programs Manager Pedzisai Ruhanya remarked in an interview with VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the Tsvangirai MDC formation should also be seen taking action because God helps those who help themselves.

Meanwhile, US diplomatic cables released by whistle blower website, Wikileaks included one from Harare in 2007 in which former Ambassador Christopher Dell told the state department that the end was near for Mr. Mugabe in political terms.

He described Mr. Mugabe as a ruthless leader but a “brilliant tactician” though hampered by his “ego and belief in his own infallibility [and] his obsessive focus on the past as a justification for everything in the present and future.”

Dell described then-opposition leader Tsvangirai as a flawed figure with “questionable judgment in selecting those around him.” Nonetheless, Dell considered Mr. Tsvangirai to be "the indispensable element for opposition success.”

In calling a near-term end to Mr. Mugabe’s term in power, Dell acknowledged that such predictions had been made by his predecessors.

Mr. Mugabe lost the first round of the 2008 presidential election to Mr. Tsvangirai, but clung to power through a runoff election that many in the world and region considered to lack legitimacy, leading to the current power-sharing arrangement in Harare.

Though the unauthorized release of secret U.S documents by Wiki leaks has been controversial to say the least, Emira Woods, co-director of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington said she believed the leaks are good for democracy.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera said Dell’s observations on Mr. Tsvangirai are well known, adding what is more interesting for political scientists is what was revealed about those in ZANU-PF who have worked with the U.S. government.

Elsewhere, the Zimbabwean Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for six people accused of plotting a coup in 2007 against Mr. Mugabe to appeal a High Court decision upholding their re-indictment following the expiration of a statutory time limit for trial.

VOA Studio 7 correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported from Harare.

some have lost faith in sadc, however. Following the letdown in gaborone the tsvangirai m-d-c has added divine intervention to its playbook drafting a prayer for guidance to help the nation find its way to freedom.