A senior official of the Southern African Development Community offered reassurances this week that the regional grouping's effort to mediate a solution to the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe is still on course despite setbacks.
SADC Secretary General Tomaz Salomao told journalists Thursday in Gaborone, Botswana, where the organization is based, that the process is a “very delicate one” which should not prematurely be judged a failure.
Little information on the talks is coming from the ruling ZANU-PF party, the Movement for Democratic Change and South African President Thabo Mbeki, SADC’s mediator, but sources say there are fundamental disagreements between ZANU-PF and the MDC which, with other developments have set back the attempted mediation.
Salomao also said SADC will recommend that fuel, fertilizer and other economic inputs be made available to Zimbabwe from within the 14-member regional pact.
But political analyst Hermann Hanekom told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that SADC is presenting an optimistic outlook on the situation when it is clear to most observers that the crisis in Zimbabwe is deepening.
SADC sources said Salomao’s statements reflects the regional grouping’s position ahead of its summit in Lusaka next week. Mr. Mbeki is expected to deliver a progress report on the talks to his regional peers during the summit.
Political analyst John Makumbe, a senior lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said it is clear that the talks are failing while economic and political conditions deteriorate.
Meanwhile, South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said Thursday that the region must help Zimbabwe resolve its political and economic problems before Zimbabwean refugees overwhelm South Africa and other neighboring countries.
Addressing journalists in Pretoria, Pahad said increasing numbers of Zimbabweans were coming over the border seeking relief from the economic collapse at home.
He said the situation in Zimbabwe is serious and requires immediate action. He said it is in South Africa’s interest “nationally and morally” to facilitate a dialogue in Harare.
Political analyst David Monyae of the University of the Witwatersrand told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Pahad’s statement reflects Pretoria’s need to address the mounting refugee crisis without at the same time jeopardizing the crisis negotiations which Mr. Mbeki is mediating.