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Zimbabwe Opposition Faction Softens Threat To Scuttle Crisis Talks

Though the Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai has made noises in recent weeks about pulling out of South African-mediated crisis talks with the ruling party, the likelihood of such a move now seems diminished..

Tsvangirai himself, publicly critical of the talks for some time, told a rally in the Harare suburb of Glen Norah Sunday that the talks are only “on paper,” meaning that there has been no progress on the ground reflecting ruling party commitments.

But spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai opposition formation told reporter Brenda Moyo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that for now the formation is not talking about breaking off the talks but simply questioning the ruling party's sincerity.

Both factions of the MDC, which split in 2005 into factions now headed by Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, are represented at the negotiating table facing officials of the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe. The Mutambara faction took issue with the Tsvangirai grouping's threats to pull out, saying that had to be a joint decision.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, a close ally of the MDC from its inception in 1999, said it doesn’t expect much to come out of the talks. Union officials said they don’t expect South Africa to put pressure on President Robert Mugabe and expect ZANU-PF to eventually pull the rug out from under the opposition.

ZCTU Secretary General Wellington Chibebe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that even if Tsvangirai’s faction of the MDC exits the talks, its decision to vote with the ruling party to amend the constitution on electoral points will remain on the record.

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