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S. Africa's Zuma to Take Up Zimbabwe Security Sector Reform With Harare

Sources said Mr. Zuma’s team pressed negotiators to draw set a time line for a referendum on a new constitution and the next elections so as to have a definitive document to present to a SADC summit on May 20

Discussions among negotiators for the parties in Zimbabwe's troubled unity government ended Friday in Cape Town, South Africa, with a request to regional mediator President Jacob Zuma to schedule meetings with the Harare principals on critical items.

Such issues include reform of the Zimbabwean security sector to ringfence the electoral process from interference by the military, the police and intelligence services, and the reconstitution of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to remove carryovers from the predecessor commission who remain loyal to President Robert Mugabe.

The negotiators opened talks on Thursday at the request of Mr. Zuma, named mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis by the Southern African Development Community in 2009. They presented a draft road-map to the next Zimbabwean elections to a team of facilitators and advisers representing Mr. Zuma and by extension SADC and the African Union.

Sources close to the talks said Mr. Zuma’s team pressed the negotiators to draw set a specific timeline for a referendum on the constitution now under drafting and the next elections so as to have a definitive document to present to a SADC summit May 20.

Negotiators for ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change formations are now expected to meet next week in Harare to discuss the timelines before Mr. Zuma’s arrival for talks with President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, leader of the smaller MDC formation.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town on Thursday, Mr. Tsvangirai said he wants a road map that will produce credible elections whose results will not be contested. He said negotiating with Mr. Mugabe had been "frustrating."

Energy Minister Elton Mangoma, negotiator for the Tsvangirai MDC formation, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the MDC agreed on various issues with their ZANU-PF counterparts but it was not clear whether implementation would follow.