South African President Jacob Zuma arrived in Harare Thursday evening for a meeting with the three principals of the country's fractious unity government in hopes of easing tensions ahead of next month's Southern African Development Community summit.
Secretary General Gwede Mantashe of Mr. Zuma’s African National Congress party said on Wednesday that his boss would take a firm stance to discourage “deviant behavior” aimed at undermining Zimbabwe's so-called inclusive government.
But political analysts said President Zuma is likely to face an uphill battle as President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change have hardened their positions in recent weeks in particular.
Mr. Zuma was expected to hold one-on-one meetings with Mr. Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime minister Arthur Mutambara on alleged noncompliance with the September 2008 Global Political Agreement by one party or another.
It was unclear if he would meet them all together late Thursday evening or on Friday.
Minister of State Gorden Moyo told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that leadership of the Reserve Bank and Office of the Attorney General tops the agenda.
Spokesman Edwin Mushoriwa of the MDC formation led by Mutambara agreed that the governorship of the central bank is a key issue.
But ZANU-PF Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa said the tenures of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana are non-negotiable.Many Zimbabweans are hope Mr. Zuma will be able to untangle at least some of the issues that have been troubling the inclusive government since its launch in February.
Though Mr. Zuma’s staff says he will take a firm line with unspecified troublemakers, others note that he will soon hand off his SADC chairmanship, raising the question of who will take point for the region on Zimbabwe if not Mr. Zuma or his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki.
For perspective, reporter Sandra Nyaira turned to political analyst Brian Kagoro in Nairobi and Bright Matonga, a former ZANU-PF deputy information minister.
Matonga said he does not expect President Zuma to take a tough line with President Mugabe but instead will simply lend his support to the unity government