South African President Thabo Mbeki is seeking to reconcile the rival factions of the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change, adding his influence to that of civil society groups in the country arguing for a unified opposition.
Official sources in Pretoria said Mr. Mbeki will present a draft unity agreement to the factions led by founding MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai and pro-senate faction President Arthur Mutambara. The opposition split arose from Tsvangirai’s opposition to participation by the party senate elections held in November 2005, though at that time faction opposing him was led by MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube.
Political experts say a divided MDC might find it hard to defeat a ZANU-PF presidential candidate - for instance Vice President Joyce Mujuru – in 2008. Church leaders and academic figures like former University of Zimbabwe Chancellor Walter Kamba are also said to be working in the background to to patch up the opposition rift.
President Mbeki, meanwhile, is under pressure from regional leaders concerned about deteriorating economic and social conditions in Zimbabwe. Finance ministers of the Southern African Development Community say they will plead with the international monetary fund among other institutions and donors to prop up Zimbabwe's economy before the crisis spills over even further into neighboring countries.
For a South African political view on Mr. Mbeki’s attempt to broker an MDC truce and cooperation agreement, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to African National Congress communications officer Khulekani Ntshangase.