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South African Leaders Press For Action As Zimbabwe Crisis Deepens

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said Monday that talks to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis will resume on Tuesday in Pretoria with negotiators from ZANU-PF and both groupings of the Movement for Democratic Change and mediator Thabo Mbeki. Mr. Motlanthe said the humanitarian crisis is bound to deteriorate without a legitimate government in place.

Motlanthe told reporters that, "Unless this root cause of the political absence of a legitimate government is solved, the situation will get worse and may implode and collapse."

Elsewhere, Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, said the party will send a delegation to Zimbabwe shortly to assess humanitarian needs.

"The situation has just gone beyond a situation where we can say ’let us wait and see’," Zuma told journalists. "We have got to act and act now."

The statements from South Africa's top political leadership closely followed Harare's action on the weekend barring entry into the country by a delegation of so-called Elders led by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and human rights advocate Graça Machel, wife of Nelson Mandela.

The members of the organization of international eminent persons said they wanted a first-hand look at the crisis. But Zimbabwe state media called the mission partisan.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the MDC formation led by prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai told VOA his party would be represented at Tuesday's talks, but insisted that for matters to progress the outstanding issue of cabinet appointments must be resolved.

Deputy Spokesman Renson Gasela of Mutambara MDC formation said the talks were crucial to pave the way for formation of a national unity government as soon as possible.

Correspondent Benedict Nhlapho of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported on the sequence of events in Johannesburg following the denial of entry to the Elders, who subsequently met with Motlanthe and MDC formation leader Arthur Mutambara.

Mutambara told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that there is little the Elders can do in the crisis without a national unity government in place.

But Annan told VOA earlier that with the current government of President Robert Mugabe unable to handle the burgeoning humanitarian emergency with food shortages and cholera taking a deadly toll, the Elders can help mobilize donors and relief organizations.

University of Zimbabwe Professor John Makumbe said addressing the humanitarian crisis does not need to await the formation of a national unity government.

Representatives of some Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations flew to South Africa on short notice to meet with the Elders after they were excluded from Zimbabwe.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Chairman MacDonald Lewanika told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Elders could help mobilize aid, but whether Harare would cooperate was another question given how it has treated the delegation.

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