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Smaller Zimbabwean Political Parties Demand Audience With Zuma

Four political parties outside Zimbabwe's unity government are demanding an audience with South African President Jacob Zuma, Harare mediator for the Southern African Development Community mediator, during his visit next week.

MDC99, Zapu, Zanu Ndonga and the Democratic Party, say Mr. Zuma, who due in Harare to deal with outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement of power-sharing, including the election roadmap, should not only meet with unity government principals but give them an ear as well.

Zapu leader, Dumiso Dabengwa, a former ally of President Robert Mugabe, says credible elections are not possible without the opposition voice being heard hence Mr. Zuma should intervene.

Democratic Party leader Wurayayi Zembe adds violence in the country is escalating ahead of elections that Mugabe wants held this year, with or without a new constitution and other key reforms.

MDC99 leader Job Sikhala warned that the opposition parties would force their way into Mr. Zuma's meetings with the principals if he does not give them audience during his visit.

The four opposition parties, which also received support from former finance minister Simba Makoni's Mavambo Kusile Dawn party, delivered their petition to the South African embassy Friday.

Mr. Zuma's advisor Lindiwe Zulu could not be reached for comment.

SADC leaders meeting at a regional summit in Angola last week ordered Zimbabwe's political leaders to implement reforms to pave way for free and fair elections.

Negotiators for parties in the unity government , meanwhile, say Mr. Zuma’s facilitation team is the one that is more likely to be in Harare, than him. The team is expected to nudge coalition partners to settle outstanding issues troubling the power-sharing government.

Sources in Pretoria and Harare told VOA that the facilitators want to see progress in the constitution-making process, security sector reform and press parties to finalize an election roadmap.

The facilitators are also expected to meet representatives in the parliamentary select committee writing the constitution and the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, or JOMIC.

Independent political consultant Gladys Hlatywayo says unblocking the political logjam is a tall order for Pretoria as there is no political will in Harare to deal with the outstanding issues.