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Southern African Leaders Signal Impatience With Slow Pace of Harare Unity Talks

Political sources in Pretoria and Maputo neither South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator in Zimbabwe, nor Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, has been impressed with the extent of progress in the Harare talks

Key figures in the Southern African Development Community have signaled that they are growing impatient for meaningful results from talks among Zimbabwe's unity government partners who have continued to dither on the contentious issues which have long troubled the power sharing arrangement.

Political sources in Pretoria and Maputo said South African President Jacob Zuma, designated Zimbabwe crisis mediator by SADC in November, has sent a preliminary report on the Harare negotiations to President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, chairman of the SADC troika on politics, defense and security, which helped break an October-November deadlock in the government.

But neither leader has been impressed with the progress, sources said.

Zuma adviser and facilitation team member Lindiwe Zulu told VOA that without a complete report there is not much room for higher-level mediation.

She expressed hope that party negotiators would meet this week and give unity government principals a comprehensive report by Monday.

However, the negotiators failed to meet this week as Welshman Ncube of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara was out of the country. ZANU-PF negotiators had also called for time out to attend their party congress over the past weekend (which adopted proposals essentially refusing further concessions to the MDC for now).

Other negotiators including Tendai Biti of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF said they did not know if talks would resume Friday.

At this juncture negotiators have yet to grapple with the most divisive issues on the agenda including the leadership of the Reserve Bank and the Office of the Attorney General, and the swearing-in of MDC provincial governors.

International relations expert David Monyae in Johannesburg told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the unity leaders must get down to business.