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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai's MDC Urges S. Africa's Zuma to Act on Crackdown

South African President Jacob Zuma delivers the State of the Nation Address during the opening of parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, February 10, 2011 (file photo)

Zuma foreign policy adviser Lindiwe Zulu said the team is following up on a road-map to elections and issues related to the Global Political Agreement for power sharing which underpins the two-year-old unity government

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s formation of the co-governing Movement for Democratic Change is asking South African President Jacob Zuma to intervene to halt what it calls an escalating crackdown on opponents of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party which is destabilizing the unity government.

Mr. Zuma, mediator in Zimbabwe for the Southern African Development Community, sent a team of facilitators back to Harare on Tuesday to in a bid to patch up the frayed unity government. Zuma foreign policy advisor Lindiwe Zulu said the team is following up on a road-map to elections and lingering issues related to the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing which is the basis of the two-year-old unity government.

She confirmed facilitators will meet the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee late Tuesday and meet Wednesday with negotiators for the three governing parties.

Sources said the top item on the agenda - at least for the MDC - was the recent surge in political violence, continuing invasions of white-owned property, and alleged hate speech carred in state-controlled media including radio, television and newspapers.

The facilitators undertook to consult with JOMIC - established to measure compliance with the Global Political Agreement - more frequently to better follow the situation on the bround. JOMIC sources said the facilitators expressed concern about reported violence.

Tsvangirai MDC sources said they will present the facilitators with documentation on incidents of violence they say were perpetrated by ZANU-PF militants, the police and the army, and wuold urge Mr. Zuma to personally involve himself without further delay.

MDC ministers confronted their ZANU-PF counterparts about the alleged crackdown in a heated cabinet meeting on Tuesday, sources said.

Political analyst Trevor Maisiri told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that Southern African leaders must change tactics in Harare to get power sharing back on track, and that Zimbabwe needs a full-time mediator "monitoring events every day."

Meanwhile, former MDC lawmaker Munyaradzi Gwisai and about 50 members of his International Socialist Organization remained behind bars on Tuesday after lawyers failed to secure their release. They are accused of plotting an Egypt-style uprising.

Their lawyer, Marufu Mandevere, told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that police were given permission to hold the accused while the attorney general reviewed the case.

Events in the Mideast and North Africa have stirred much discussion in Zimbabwe, but many say an Egyptian-style revolt is unlikely to take place in Harare.

Among them is publisher Ibbo Mandaza who expressed skepticism this week on the VOA Zimbabwe Service's LiveTalk program, noting that the level of fear among Zimbabweans is considerable and the the country';s security services are much more closely bound to President Mugabe than in Arab countries where support eroded as protests rose.

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