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Pretoria Voices Impatience At Slow Pace Of Zimbabwe Crisis Talks

Southern African parliamentarians have joined Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad of South Africa in voicing concern about the slow pace of Zimbabwean crisis resolution talks being mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Pahad on Thursday referred to the "the lack of urgency by the Zimbabweans," saying that with elections scheduled in Zimbabwe in early 2008, time is running out, and that with the economy sliding and tensions mounting decisive action is needed.

The ruling ZANU-PF's representatives in the talks, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Labor Minister Nicholas Goche, failed to show up for talks last week and Friday again asked that a meeting be rescheduled as Goche needed to be in Geneva.

On Thursday in Geneva, Goche declined to appear before the standards committee of the International Labor Organization to respond to alleged labor rights violations.

Ruling party officials Monday submitted a position paper two months overdue.

Both factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change welcomed Pahad’s statement. Secretary General Tendai Biti of the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai said Pahad’s comment was aimed at ZANU-PF, which he accused of stalling.

Secretary General Welshman Ncube of the faction led by Arthur Mutambara told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that the continued delays greatly concern the opposition.

VOA was unable to obtain comment from Justice Minister Chinimasa despite repeated calls to his mobile number, and Labor Minister Goche was unreachable in Geneva.

Researcher Chris Maroleng of the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa said both sides in the talks must be fully committed for them to produce results.

Parliamentarians of the Southern African Development Community meeting in the Namibian capital of Windhoek on Friday expressed concern at the slow pace of the Zimbabwe mediation process. Zimbabwe was not on the agenda for the 10-day conference, but a number of parliamentarians urged that it be taken up.

National Chairman Lovemore Moyo of the Tsvangirai MDC faction, the only opposition member of Zimbabwe's parliament in Windhoek, said the conference resolved to give its fullest support to Mbeki, whom SADC nominated as Zimbabwe mediator.

He told reporter Chris Gande of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Zimbabwean House Speaker and ZANU-PF Chairman John Nkomo, heading the Harare delegation, agreed that Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis needed an urgent solution.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...