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S. Africa's Zuma Will Consider Request for Regional Summit on Harare Disputes - Aide

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

The MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai urged Mr. Zuma to call an urgent SADC summit to discuss the many issues troubling the Harare government and take up “guarantees to the legitimacy" of a near-term election

South African President Jacob Zuma, who is mediating talks in Zimbabwe's power-sharing government for the Southern African Development Community, will consider a call by the Movement for Democratic Change for a SADC summit on the stalled negotiations if the request is officially lodged with him, an aide to Zuma said Monday.

The MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai concluded consultations Sunday on the party’s participation in the unity government. Among other resolutions it urged Mr. Zuma to call an urgent SADC summit to discuss the many issues troubling the Harare government and take up “guarantees to the legitimacy" of a near-term election.

Both Mr. Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe have raised the possibility of a new round of elections next year, though most observers say the country is not ready institutionally or psychologically for balloting in 2011

Speaking to reporters Sunday, Mr. Tsvangirai blamed ZANU-PF hardliners for holding the unity government hostage by blocking full implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing.

A meeting which Mr. Tsvangirai had proposed on Monday with President Robert Mugabe to discuss the deepening crisis in the government was called off because Mr. Mugabe is in Iran on official business.

South African facilitator Lindiwe Zulu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that while Mr. Zuma continues to be optimistic as to the prospects for resolving the contentious issues destabilizing the Harare government, he will consider asking SADC to call a summit if he is officially asked to do so by parties in the government.

Mr. Zuma vowed last week to continue mediation in Zimbabwe, telling the Cape Town parliament that he and team of his facilitators were evaluating proposals for a lasting solution to the problems besetting the Harare government.

Tsvangirai MDC spokeswoman Thabitha Khumalo said that although her party wants SADC to step up its involvement in the extended and for the most fruitless political negotiations, the Zimbabwe economy is an urgent issue too, in particular the lack of transparency in developing the rich diamond resources of eastern Marange district.

Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga in an interview with VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira applauded the MDC for putting the Marange diamonds issue on the table, saying Mr. Tsvangirai and his party should have a plan of action should Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF continue to defy efforts establish transparency and accountability there.

Elsewhere in Zimbabwean politics, the MDC formation led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara on Monday overhauled its lineup of portfolio secretaries to fill vacancies left by deaths of senior officials.

The party has named famed writer Tsitsi Dangarembwa secretary for education and political analyst Joshua Mhambi deputy secretary for economic affairs. MDC Elections Director Paul Themba Nyathi told VOA reporter Brenda Moyo that these latest appointments show that the party is going strong despite what its critics say.