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South Africa's Zuma Deflects Challenge to His Zimbabwe Mediation Role


ZANU-PF hardliners have been demanding that Mr. Zuma to relinquish his mediation role because he is taking over as chairman of the SADC troika, which has become a kind of standing committee on Zimbabwe issue

South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator for the Southern African Development Community in the chronic crisis in the Zimbabwe unity government, appeared Wednesday to have quashed a ZANU-PF challenge to his role in Harare.

Sources said Mr. Zuma convened the SADC troika on politics, defense and security on the margins of a regional summit late Tuesday to discuss the challenge to his mediator status by hardliners in President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

ZANU-PF officials led by former information minister Jonathan Moyo had been calling on Mr. Zuma to relinquish his mediation role because he is taking over as chairman of the SADC troika, which has become a kind of standing committee on Zimbabwe issues. The ZANU-PF officials maintained that there was a conflict between the two roles.

The troika meeting was attended by Zambian Vice President George Kunda, attending on behalf of Zambian President Rupiya Banda, the outgoing troika chairman, and by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, whose tenure on the troika is expiring.

SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomão said the leaders had endorsed Mr. Zuma's continuation as mediator in Harare on behalf of SADC and the African Union.

The committee noted progress in resolving the longstanding crisis in Harare, saying the power-sharing parties, which include two formations of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change, are closer to setting dates for a referendum on the revised constitution now being drafted, and for new national elections. Kunda late Tuesday presented a progress report on Zimbabwe to the full summit.

Sources said the report noted progress but also continuing disagreements on elements of the so-called elections road map in preparation for months now including reform of the national security sector and institutions. It urged Mr. Zuma to keep pushing for change.

International relations expert Clifford Mashiri told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the troika’s endorsement of Mr. Zuma was a significant event.

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