Negotiators from Zimbabwe's three unity government partners opened talks Monday on resolving a number of lingering and troublesome issues as was urged by Southern African regional leaders earlier this month.
But political sources in Harare said the atmosphere was tense amid recriminations over delays in meeting the early December deadline set by the Southern African Development Community’s troika on politics.
Even the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change, aligned on many but not all issues, were trading accusations of foot-dragging since the troika meeting was held in Mozambique on Nov. 5.
Political sources said the issues heading the agenda were the leadership of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Office of the Attorney General, and the delay in swearing in MDC provincial governors.
The same sources said that the negotiators also reviewed recommendations by the SADC troika which visited Zimbabwe late last month, including the re-assignment of the controversial central bank chief, Gideon Gono.
While there has been little visible progress, sources said it has been agreed that MDC ambassadors should be put in place by next month.
Senator David Coltart of the MDC formation led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that harsh exchanges between the two formations of the former opposition are unfortunate. But he said he hoped the latest talks will end such bickerring.
Commenting, Nicole Fritz of the Southern African Litigation Center and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa said SADC leaders must take a tougher line with Harare to obtain substantial results.
Elsewhere, Parliament’s select committee on constitutional reform reported Monday that public consultations on redrafting the basic document have been postponed again until January to accommodate the ZANU-PF congress slated for mid-December. Correspondent Irwin Chifera reported from Harare.
And in Harare High Court, the chief investigator in the terrorism trial of Tsvangirai MDC treasurer Roy Bennett, a member of the Senated, testified that police have not completed their investigations though the trial is in course.
Under cross-examination, investigator Sipho James Makone told the court that the state was still waiting for a report from a bank in Mozambique to prove that Bennett deposited funds into an account held by the state's star witness Peter Hichsman for the purchase of illegal arms, as Thomas Chiripasi reported.