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Southern African Leaders Seen Urging Faster Zimbabwe Reform, Reconstruction

Southern African political sources said Friday that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is likely to come under heavy pressure from his fellow regional heads of state when they meet in summit next week in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Southern African Development Community gathering will be looking at the progress and the setbacks of the government of national unity formed in Harare in February under the September 2008 Global Political Agreement, of which SADC is a guarantor.

The Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has complained to SADC that President Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front or ZANU-PF have refused to fully implement the power-sharing pact negotiated to end an impasse between ZANU-PF and the MDC following turbulent 2008 elections.

Sources said South Africa, which has been inundated with millions of Zimbabwean emigrants seeking economic or political refuge, and Botswana, which has also seen significant inflows, will take Mr. Mugabe to task on a range of issues related to power-sharing.

Thandi Modise, deputy secretary-general of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, set the tone on Friday saying Pretoria wants to see more forward movement in Harare.

She said the millions of Zimbabweans who have crossed the border into South Africa over the past decade are straining the country's health care, education and housing resources.

Regional leaders and SADC officials are also displeased at this week's declaration by ZANU-PF Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa that Harare no longer recognizes the authority of SADC's Namibia-based tribunal, which has ruled against Zimbabwe in cases brought by white farmers stripped of their farms under land reform without compensation or due process.

Diplomatic sources said however that the ZANU-PF side of the Harare government has been emboldened by the likelihood that DRC president Joseph Kabila, seen as a Mugabe ally, will succeed South African President Jacob Zuma as chairman of the regional organization.

Over the past week ZANU-PF has been backpedaling on a number of points agreed under the Global Political Agreement, including the swearing in of MDC provincial governors and deputy agriculture minister-designate Roy Bennett. ZANU-PF sources said Mr. Mugabe's party now wants to revisit the formula agreed upon for the allocation of governorships.

ZANU-PF Secretary of Administration and Minister of State Didymus Mutasa, attached to the office of the president, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the issues the MDC wants resolved are only “side shows,” with Western targeted sanctions against President Mugabe and his inner circle ZANU-PF's main concern.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation said ZANU-PF is preoccupied with Western sanctions and ignoring issues related to good governance.

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