South African President Jacob Zuma has put off a visit to Harare to facilitate a settlement of issues troubling Zimbabwe's national unity government because the parties to the inclusive government missed a deadline, sources said.
Diplomatic sources said the delay frustrated Mr. Zuma, who is mediating in the longstanding dispute for the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, both guarantors of the power-sharing arrangement.
Mr. Zuma international relations adviser, Lindiwe Zulu, recently said Mr. Zuma wants to see the negotiation process in Harare pick up as the issues threatening the nine-month old government have been dragging on for too long.
She said Pretoria has sent emissaries to Zimbabwe to push for an agreement, and urged negotiators to take an early-December deadline seriously.
SADC's troika on politics, defense and security held discussions on Zimbabwe in Maputo, Mozambique on Nov. 5, but the talks in Harare only got under way on Monday though SADC had urged they begin within 15 days. The parties in Harare are under pressure to come up with a deal within 30 days.
Sources said President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change formations of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara have settled on a framework for the talks acceptable to all the parties, set an agenda, and agreed to move toward a deal on filling five provincial governor slots promised to the MDC wings.
The sources said ZANU-PF has emphasized the lifting of Western sanctions - an objective it says the MDC must seek to show its good faith - with backing from the Mutambara MDC formation, which has often straddled issues.
Zuma aide Zulu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that Pretoria is pleased talks are now under way to unblock the political logjam.
Elsewhere, Mr. Tsvangirai met in Tripoli with African Union Chairman and Libyan leader Muammar Ghadaffi, talking about the possibility Mr. Ghadaffi might name an AU envoy to Harare to monitor progress.
Prime ministerial spokesman James Maridadi told reporter Zulu in an interview from Harare that such a move would be within Mr. Ghadaffi’s brief.