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Southern African Regional Grouping Steps Up Intervention in Zimbabwe Crisis

The Southern African Development Community is stepping up its intervention to resolve the crisis within Zimbabwe's eight-month-old national unity government, with SADC Chairman and Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila due in Harare on the heels of a two-day assessment and mediation mission by SADC foreign ministers.

Mozambique Foreign Affairs Minister Oldemiro Baloi told reporters in Harare at the end of the two-day visit by a delegation of SADC's so-called troika on politics, defense and security that Mozambican President Armando Guebuza and the heads of state of Swaziland and Zambia, the other two countries on the troika, would convene a "summit" very soon.

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said earlier Friday that SADC heads of state as a body would meet in an extraordinary summit to examine the situation in Zimbabwe, but it was unclear whether the next step would be a full troika meeting or a SADC summit.

Mr. Kabila met earlier Friday in South Africa with President Jacob Zuma and announced that he was headed to Harare, adding that he felt certain the crisis could be resolved.

Official sources in Harare declined to confirm the visit, but some political sources said the news that Mr. Kabila was on his way caused consternation within the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, though Mr. Kabila is thought to be close to Mr. Mugabe.

The impending Kabila visit was seen as a diplomatic gain for Mr. Tsvangirai, who lobbied the DRC president and other regional leaders after announcing Oct. 16 that his grouping of the Movement for Democratic Change would disengage from ZANU-PF in the government over a wide range of alleged ZANU-PF violations of the 2008 Global Political Agreement.

ZANU-PF officials said there was no reason for Mr. Kabila to come to Harare as the SADC troika delegation was on the scene and engaged with unity government partners.

The troika ministers completed a review of the current state of the GPA and unity government through discussions with President Mugabe, Mr. Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, among other stakeholders, including SADC diplomats.

Tsvangirai spokesman James Maridadi told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the troika will call for an extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe.

Secretary General Welshman Ncube of the Mutambara MDC formation said however that an eventual SADC summit was always on the cards.

ZANU-PF information committee member Chris Mutsvangwa said the party has no problem with SADC increasing its profile in Harare as a key guarantor of the GPA.

Political analyst Teresa Mugadza said Mr. Kabila’s decision to come to Harare was significant as it demonstrated SADC's serious commitment to resolving the crisis.

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