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President Zuma Attempts To Diffuse Political Tensions in Zimbabwe

After Zimbabweans voted overwhelmingly for the adoption of a draft constitution, the South African facilitation team is back in Harare to push for further democratic reforms ahead of national elections expected sometime this year.

South African president Jacob Zuma is the Southern African Development Community-appointed mediator in Harare and his team is expected to calm rising political temperatures ahead of the polls.

Mr. Zuma’s envoys met Wednesday with officials from the Joint Monotoring and Implementation Committee, a mechanism to see that power sharing unfolds as agreed under the 2008 Global Political Agreement.

With a new police clampdown on opponents of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party including politicians and rights groups, there is little unity in the coalition government.

JOMIC co-chaiperson, Energy Minister Elton Mangoma, told VOA that they met Mr. Zuma's three envoys and discussed the issue of strengthening the organization by seconding three people from SADC as recommended by the regional bloc.

Two officials from Zambia and Tanzania who have been seconded by the SADC Troika on Politics and Defense were formally introduced to JOMIC officials in the meeting. A third member will come from Tanzania.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, in a press statement, accused the police of becoming an “appendage of a political party,” in reference to the former liberation party.

Mr. Tsvangirai said his formation of the MDC is trying to promote an environment conducive to a free and fair election despite the crackdown.

Sources in SADC and Pretoria told VOA Studio 7 that Mr. Zuma’s envoys will increase visibility on the ground as the nation prepares for what observers say will be an historic general election.
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Political analyst Philip Pasirayi, Director of the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe, told VOA that Mr. Zuma’s envoys must adopt a hands-on approach to ensure the situation in Harare does not spiral out of control.
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