A senior African Union official will travel to Pretoria later this week for talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki aimed at stepping up the pace of crisis resolution talks between the Zimbabwean ruling party and opposition which Mr. Mbeki is mediating.
Diplomatic sources said Mr. Mbeki will meet with African Union Commission Chairman Jean Ping. Mbeki spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said the South African president invited Ping to Pretoria for a briefing on preliminary discussions on power-sharing that began last week.
An A.U. source said the Mbeki-Ping talks would be “aimed at accelerating the implementation” of a resolution passed by the recent A.U. summit in Egypt urging power-sharing.
Other diplomatic sources said Mr. Mbeki and Ping will take up a longstanding request by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change for a permanent A.U. envoy to take part in the mediation process, and for a firm time-frame for power-sharing talks to conclude.
Editor Patrick Smith of the London-based Africa Confidential newsletter told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the meeting between the two men is likely to concentrate on the African Union role in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.
Meanwhile, the preliminary talks between Zimbabwe's ruling party and opposition were to continue this week, political sources said.
But the MDC was continuing to insist that contrary to what state media reported, there was no agreement even on a framework for the discussions which mediators hope will lead to some form of power-sharing to resolve the crisis.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the MDC formation of Morgan Tsvangirai told VOA reporter Peter Clottey that there is a “deficit of good-will” on the part of ZANU-PF.
But former ZANU-PF chief whip Joram Gumbo told reporter Zulu that the opposition charges are misdirected and that the ruling party is pursuing the talks in good faith.