South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, currently chairman of the Southern African Development Community, said Wednesday that SADC has created a special purpose entity called the Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Development Assistance Framework to relieve misery in the member country, now sorely afflicted by a cholera and widespread hunger.
Motlanthe also dismissed charges lodged by Harare that Botswana is training members of the Zimbabwean opposition to stage a coup, as Benedict Nhlapho reported from Pretoria.
Mr. Motlanthe also urged the immediate formation of a national unity government in Harare to address the expanding cholera epidemic which has claimed some 1,000 lives in recent weeks, and other humanitarian crises including widespread food shortages. The United Nations World Food Program warned this week that its resources to provide aid are running out.
But President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change of Morgan Tsvangirai, designated prime minister in the government that has failed to materialize since the Sept. 15 signature of a power-sharing agreement, both rejected Motlanthe’s call for the formation of a government as premature and difficult to implement at this time.
The parties were also cool to the recommendation by the International Crisis Group, a think tank based in Brussels, that Mr. Mugabe and Tsvangirai both step aside to make way for a transitional administration that would tackle the crisis and prepare elections in 18 months.
The ICG report, entitled “Ending Zimbabwe’s Nightmare, A Possible Way Forward,” described the power-sharing talks as “hopelessly deadlocked” and the impasse intractable.
Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF "will not accept genuine power sharing" and Tsvangirai and his dominant MDC formation "are unwilling to join a ZANU-PF dominated administration as a junior partner, responsible for ending international isolation but without authority to implement needed reforms and emergency humanitarian relief," the ICG states.
The International Crisis Group proposes "a transitional administration, run by non-partisan experts, in which neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai would have any position. It would be mandated to implement fundamental political and economic reforms to stabilize the economy and prepare new presidential elections in eighteen months."
The ICG said former South African President Thabo Mbeki would have to step down as crisis mediator "in favor of someone perceived as more neutral."
ZANU-PF Chief Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo tells reporter Blessing Zulu that his party cannot deal with unity proposals this week as faces a crucial national conference.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation said Mothlanthe's call for the formation of a government ignores fundamental differences between the two parties.