Negotiators for the three parties in Zimbabwe's troubled power-sharing government resumed talks Thursday with a deadline Monday to conclude discussions and another deadline March 31 report to regional mediator and South African President Jacob Zuma on their positions.
The long-running talks resumed behind closed doors late Thursday afternoon and continued into the evening after Finance Minister Tendai Biti, shaken up in a highway crash Tuesday, joined the discussions as chief negotiator for the Movement for Democratic Change formation headed by prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
No word emerged as to progress – or lack of it.
Meanwhile the state-controlled Herald newspaper, strongly pro-ZANU-PF, quoted party Information Secretary Rugare Gumbo as saying Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, ZANU-PF's chief negotiator, had declared that no agreements were reached during Mr. Zuma’s mediation visit to Harare last week.
Mr. Zuma announced a "package of measures" that had been agreed through his mediation, and political sources said he secured undertakings from the three parties for the appointment of MDC provincial governors and for a change at the top at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe or the Office of the Attorney General, among other items.
Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesman for the MDC formation led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, said he hoped the latest talks would deliver results.
Meanwhile, President Zuma has again urged the West to lift sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his closest political associates and supporters, saying they are undermining the Harare unity government.
Addressing the South African Parliament in Cape Town, Mr. Zuma said the sanctions are dividing the partners in government and that all members of the government should be treated the same.
South African-based political analyst Ozias Tungwarara concurred with President Zuma, saying that lifting the sanctions would promote progress in Harare.