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Zimbabwe Crisis Talks Resume But Some Civic Groups Question Use

Mediated crisis resolution talks between Zimbabwe's ruling party and the two factions of its political opposition were scheduled to resume Saturday in Pretoria, following a review of progress by regional leaders during the recent African Union summit.

Participants were tight-lipped, but sources in the Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai said the sides will continue to refine their agenda.

There were rumblings of discontentment, meanwhile, among Zimbabwean civil society groups, some of which want a seat at the table while others say that the negotiations are a waste of time and only serve the purposes of President Robert Mugabe.

Those in the latter camp include National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku, who told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his organization has decided to wash its hands of the South African-mediated talks.

Spokesman Gabriel Chaibva of the MDC faction of Arthur Mutambara said the talks are in an early stage, and that his formation is urging civil society to involve itself.

Elsewhere, some church leaders say they intend to keep pushing for dialogue with the government in hopes of finding a resolution to the long-running political and, increasingly, national economic crisis in that way.

Reverend Kupakwashe Mutata, who addressed a meeting on church-state relations in Harare on Thursday, said that as Zimbabwe is a largely Christian nation it is important for the clergy to maintain a dialogue with politicians to ease the people’s suffering.

Mutata is a member of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.

Minister of State for Public and Interactive Affairs Chen Chumitengwende was invited to Thursday evening's meeting, but failed to show up or send a representative.The symposium had been called by the Mass Public Opinion Institute.

Mutata told reporter Carole Gombakomba that he was disappointed Chimutengwende did not appear, but said churches will continue to try to engage the government.

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