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Southern African Ministers in Harare to Assess Distressed Power-Sharing Deal

A delegation dispatched by the Southern African Development Community’s troika on politics and security that arrived in Zimbabwe late Wednesday opened discussions Thursday with political parties in the country's troubled national unity government.

The stated purpose of the visit by ministers from three SADC countries is to assess progress in the implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement. But political sources say that it is also hoped the delegation can help resolve the acute political crisis in Harare.

The SADC delegation included Foreign Minister Olderimo Baloyi of Mozambique, currently in the troika or committee chair, Zambian Foreign Affairs Minister Fashion Phiri, and Swaziland Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister Lufto Dlamini.

VOA Studio 7 correspondent Irwin Chifera reported from the consultations venue at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare that after courtesy calls on Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, the delegation met with the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr. Tsvangirai declared on Oct. 16 that his party was "disengaging" from the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe "until confidence and respect are restored," this following the indictment and re-arrest of MDC Senator Roy Bennett on terrorism charges. The MDC has long complained that ZANU-PF has not kept its power-sharing engagements.

Political analysts voiced some skepticism as to whether the SADC delegation could unravel the tangled knot of issues dividing the so-called unity government, particularly as its members are foreign ministers rather than the heads of state who usually meet as the troika.

Analyst Farai Maguwu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that SADC should have called a special summit on Zimbabwe following the MDC disengagement move.

With the "inclusive" government in a deep crisis and violence on the rise including a worrisome spate of abductions of MDC activists, Zimbabwe's political future is as cloudy as ever.

For months the Tsvangirai MDC formation has been demanding action on outstanding issues, but now it has partially pulled out of the government to the extent of refusing to participate in cabinet meetings. Some wonder whether the unity government can survive.

For a closer look at the storm battering Zimbabwean power-sharing, reporter Sandra Nyaira turned to political analyst George Shire of London and University of Zimbabwe lecturer John Makumbe. Shire said that despite the turmoil, power-sharing is likely to continue.

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