A South African facilitation team that returned to Zimbabwe this week to push for a successful conclusion to talks in Harare's power-sharing government brushed off reports saying President Robert Mugabe and other ZANU-PF officials want to defer agreements made earlier this month under South African mediation until Western sanctions have been lifted.
The facilitators were waiting to receive a report from negotiators of the three Zimbabwe power-sharing parties on implementation of the Global Political Agreement and said they had no official word of a hitch in the timetable for the report to be handed over by Wednesday.
Mr. Zuma said on concluding his visit that a "package of measures" had been agreed through his mediation.
The state-run Herald newspaper has quoted ZANU-PF’s chief negotiator, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, as declaring that the negotiators had reached no agreements with Mr Zuma during a two-day mediation exercise in mid-March on behalf of the Southern African Development Community.
The newspaper, regarded as a ZANU-PF mouthpiece, later reported that Mr. Mugabe had made similar comments to the ZANU-PF central committee.
Mr. Mugabe was said to have insisted ZANU-PF would not put in place agreements with the Movement for Democratic Change until Western sanctions have been lifted."The sanctions must go first!," the pro-ZANU-PF Herald quoted Mr. Mugabe as saying.
South African facilitation team member Lindiwe Zulu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that she and her colleagues still hope to keep to the schedule.
Harare-based political analyst Charles Mangongera said ZANU-PF wants to test Mr. Zuma's resolve.
The talks were supposed to have ended Monday with a report going to Mr. Zuma by Wednesday for forwarding to Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, current chairman of the Southern African Development Community's troika on politics and security.
But sources privy to the talks say progress has been slowed by technical issues having to do with elections, security reforms, cabinet rules and a controversial audit of national farm lands following land reform.
However, party negotiators are said to have agreed the replacement of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono and the appointment of senator Roy Bennett to a portfolio other than agriculture.
ZANU-PF negotiators were said to be under intense pressure from party hardliners demanding they back away from commitments made earlier this month through the mediation of Mr. Zuma.