President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team arrived in Zimbabwe Tuesday for meetings with negotiators of the country's inclusive government to pave the way for yet another visit to Harare by the South African leader.
President Zuma is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) appointed mediator in Harare.
The regional body resolved in Maputo this month that he must intervene in the event that there is a deadlock in Harare even in the constitution-making process.
The South African leader has previously expressed reservations about intervening in constitutional matters.
A member of the team, Lindiwe Zulu, told the VOA that they won’t dictate what should be included in the new constitution.
But parties in Harare have failed to agree on the way forward on the constitutional draft with Zanu PF insisting Saturday that it wants sweeping changes to be made while the two MDC formations say there are no further negotiations.
The SADC had been assured by Harare that there would be a constitutional referendum in October and elections next year.
However, the constitutional deadlock is now causing anxiety in the region.
MDC leader Welshman Ncube said the discussions with Mr. Zuma’s facilitation team will also focus on the implementation matrix of the Maputo SADC resolutions.
“I presume their meeting is also really a preparatory meeting for the facilitator himself to get involved directly,” Ncube told the VOA.
Interview with Welshman Ncube
Jeff Smith, Africa Advocacy Officer at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, said Mr. Zuma’s role might have to be changed to handle the constitutional crisis.
“I think a lot of people are wondering when (Mr.) Zuma and his team is going to move from a mere mediator to an arbitrator where they are actually forced to push this forward,” Smith said.
Interview with Jeff Smith
Reacting to the facilitation team's visit to Zimbabwe, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara's MDC formation said in a statement that it is concerned with "the persistent and pestering attitude of the Zuma facilitation team."
The party said: "Barely one week after the Maputo summit, the team is already here on a 'sight-seeing' visit ... The team must give the principals time to persue, consult and reflect on the summit".
It said the unity government principals are expected to come up with a solution that reflects the hopes and aspirations of Zimbabweans.
"(President) Zuma's facilitation team andits knowk foreign stakeholders must not take us for granted. We are watching and monitoring their activities," said the party.
The SADC resolved to dump Mutambara at the Maputo summit saying they will now engage his former secretary general and current president of the party, Professor Ncube, President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai.