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Zimbabweans Look to SADC Summit to Tackle Elections, Outstanding Issues

Political analysts and ordinary Zimbabweans are looking to the forthcoming Southern African Development Community summit set for Angola beginning of June to see if regional leaders can make headway in dealing with outstanding Global Political Agreement issues affecting the shaky coalition government in Harare.

Of particular importance is SADC's response to pleas by President Robert Mugabe, who's seeking support from his colleagues to call elections that will bring to an end the uneasy inclusive government that has been in place since 2009.

South African President Jacob Zuma, SADC mediator in Harare, on Monday dispatched his facilitation team to Zimbabwe ahead of a SADC troika meeting that will hear from all three political parties in the government on elections. After the troika meeting, Heads of State will meet in summit to discuss issues that include regional integration and Zimbabwe, among other issues.

Harare insists that Zimbabwe is not on the summit agenda.

Sources privy to Monday's discussions between political party negotiators and the facilitation team led by Mr. Zuma’s international relations adviser, Lindiwe Zulu, said there were complaints all around about the slow pace of the Zuma-led talks in Zimbabwe.

Zanu PF, led by Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, insisted on holding of elections this year.

But the two MDC formations in the coalition told the facilitators that election talk in the absence of key democratic reforms was causing political temperatures to rise unnecessarily in the country.

They urged the facilitators to put pressure on President Mugabe to implement agreed positions, adding he should also tone down his election rhetoric.

But Zanu PF sources said Mr. Mugabe will make a pitch to his SADC colleagues to support his push for elections this year even without a new constitution or key democratic reforms in place.

Pretoria sources, though, say Mr. Zuma is not falling for it.

The Zanu PF-leaning Herald newspaper denied Tuesday that Zimbabwe will be on the agenda of the SADC Summit, questioning Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's logic to travel to Luanda for a “Head of States” meeting.

But Zuma’s adviser Zulu confirmed to VOA's Blessing Zulu, without divulging much about her team's Monday visit to Harare, that Zimbabwe will be discussed at the summit.

Regional coordinator Dewa Mavhinga of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said Mr. Zuma must continue to insist on reforms in Harare before elections can be called.

Meanwhile, the three political parties in the inclusive government have since Monday worked with legal experts to audit the draft constitution against views collected from the public and documents handed over to drafters.

The MDC formation of Prime Minister Tsvangirai seconded lawyers Shepherd Mushonga and Innocent Gonese to the team, while Zanu PF sent Freddy Gijima and the Welshman Ncube MDC is represented by Josphat Tshuma. The attorneys are working with the select committee writing the country’s new governing charter to tie-up lose ends.

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga told VOA's Jonga Kandemiiri the team has so far covered close to 10 out of 17 chapters. But he added devolution remained an unresolved issue.