Heads of state of the Southern African Development Community meeting in Luanda, Angola, concluded a summit on Thursday and were said to have voiced satisfaction that parties to Zimbabwe’s often-troubled unity government are closer to agreeing on firm dates for a referendum on a new constitution and national elections.
The SADC summit final communiqué said regional leaders "urged the parties to [power sharing in Harare] to remain committed to the implementation of the agreement and finalise the roadmap for resolving outstanding issues," the leaders said.
Sources said Mr. Zuma as mediator presented a “frank” report on the situation in Zimbabwe, outlining problems including discord between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the two Movement for Democratic Change wings over election timing.
SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomão told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntugamili Nkomo that although there remain some differences, regional leaders were pleased to see progress toward nailing down the dates for the referendum and elections.
"The summit reiterated resolutions adopted in [the previous summit in] South Africa," Salomão said. "The [co-governing Zimbabwean] parties are definitely coming closer to agreeing on the dates for the elections and the referendum."
Sources said SADC leaders resolved that a three-member SADC delegation to boost mediation efforts – agreed by the last SADC summit in June – should be sent to Harare without further delay to work with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee and with a team of facilitators for South African President Jacob Zuma.
Spokesman Nhlanhla Dube of the MDC wing led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said his party is happy that SADC has confirmed its commitment to sending a delegation to boost monitoring of the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Programs Manager Pedzisayi Ruhanya told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that it is encouraging that the summit retained the terms of its previous communiqué, and that elections are unlikely to be held this year.
Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF has been demanding that elections be held this year, while the MDC formations have insisted that many essential reforms have yet to be instituted.
Mr. Zuma as mediator has made clear he thinks it is too early to hold elections.