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S.African Facilitators Back in Harare to Goad Ruling Partners on Reform

South African facilitators were back in Harare Monday to further prod unity government partners to implement broad democratic reforms, following up on a regional summit in Angola last week that virtually undercut President Robert Mugabe's plans to call elections this year.

The facilitation team, comprised of President Jacob Zuma’s spokesman, Marc Maharaj and Charles Ngqakula, also met with officials from small political parties outside the government, including Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn, MDC99, Zapu and Zanu Ndonga.

Sources told VOA the meeting was part of Zuma’s new approach to keep the momentum on the Zimbabwe question as recommended by Southern African Development Community, or Sadc leaders meeting in summit last week.

Maharaj and Ngqakula reportedly promised that a team recommended by the Sadc Troika last year, will finally be dispatched to Harare in the next week, to work with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee on various issues.

Sadc Troika members - South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia - will forward a member each to the implementation committee. President Mugabe's Zanu PF has publicly opposed this move, but the party's negotiators raised no such objections in Monday's meetings, a source said.

Zanu PF and MDC representatives were said to have fully bought into a proposal by Zuma's facilitators that a high-level organ involving officials in Harare and Pretoria be set up to oversee the consummation of the power-sharing accord and other reforms.

Party negotiators Tendai Biti and Jameson Timba represented the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai while Moses Mzila Ndlovu and Priscillar Misihairambwi-Mushonga stood in for the Welshman Ncube wing.

Zanu PF was represented by Emmerson Mnangwagwa and Nicholas Goche, both described by observers as some of the hardliners resisting political reform.

Mzila Ndlovu told VOA's Studio 7 all the negotiators were agreed that there is need to move fast on implementing political reforms before the next election, possible by June next year when the lifespan of the unity government comes to an end.

Weary of Zimbabwe's protracted political crisis, regional leaders urged the unity partners last week to "set out time frames for the full implementation of the roadmap to elections" and to "finalize the constitution-making process and subject it to a referendum."

Commenting, political analyst, Briggs Bomba told VOA reporter Ntungamili Nkomo Harare should implement all necessary reforms ahead of the vote that Mugabe and Zanu PF have insisted should be held this year with or without a new constitution.

Mugabe argues the power-sharing arrangement has become unworkable, blaming it on his ruling partners. But on the other hand, the MDC blames him and his party for blocking political reforms that promote a free and fair election.