A team of three South African facilitators representing President Jacob Zuma met the principals in Zimbabwe's unity government on Tuesday seeking a rapid resolution of the toughest issues facing the power-sharing partners.
Meanwhile, negotiators for the the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change formations of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara were said to have reached agreement on a broad range of secondary agenda items.
South African facilitator Lindiwe Zulu, a foreign policy advisor to Mr. Zuma, told VOA Tuesday afternoon that she and her colleagues had met President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai and hoped to meet shortly with Mr. Mutambara. The three were the signatories of the 2008 Global Political Agreement that laid the groundwork for the unity government.
Sources close to the discussions in Harare said the negotiators have agreed that an audit of the nation's farms should be carried out within three months and that long-awaited media reforms should be undertaken without further delay.
Sources in Pretoria and Harare said more divisive issues like the leadership of the Reserve Bank and the office of the Attorney General, and the swearing in of MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett as deputy minister of agriculture, had been put aside until next week, but that facilitators want action on them, too.
But MDC sources said the succession struggle in ZANU-PF, which is holding a party congress this week, is hindering talks as the negotiators are unwilling to take decisions of any import without consulting party brass.
Analyst Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group in Pretora told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the pace of the negotiations should quicken once ZANU-PF has wrapped up its congress this week.
The ZANU-PF politburo has endorsed Mr. Mugabe’s continuation as president of the former ruling party, also throwing its support behind Joyce Mujuru, party as well as national vice president. It endorsed incumbent party chairman John Nkomo as second vice president, filling the vacancy left by the death of Joseph Msika, and proposed Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya-Moyo as successor to Nkomo in the chairmanship.
ZANU-PF sources said some top officials including Emmerson Mnangagwa, the minister of defense, were not pleased to Khaya-Moyo tipped for the chair. But analysts said the congress is not likely to resist the politburo's wishes, and that most of the 5,000 delegates to the congress will rubber-stamp them.
ZANU-PF spokesman Ephraim Masawi declined to comment on the congress in an interview with VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira other than to say that all is prepared for the congress which is held every five years.
Nairobi-based political analyst Brian Kagoro saw two possible outcomes; either ZANU-PF seizes the opportunity to regroup and emerge united, or splinter as disaffected party members seek their political future elsewhere.
ZANU-PF has seen a number of prominent defections to the reconstituted Zimbabwe African People's Union of the late liberation leader Joshua Nkomo, which merged with ZANU in the late 1980s to form ZANU-PF.