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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Broadens Diplomatic Offensive Ahead of SADC Summit on Crisis

Officials say efforts are being made by the SADC facilitators to address tensions in three countries in the region, including Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai broadened his diplomatic offensive this week ahead of a crucial meeting by the regional Southern African Development Community to take up the country's escalating political crisis.

Tsvangirai met Namibian President and SADC chairman Hifikepunye Pohamba on Monday and briefed him on the on-going arrests of members of his Movement for Democratic Change formation by elements loyal to President Robert Mugabe and his long-ruling ZANU-PF party.

On Wednesday, Tsvangirai is expected to meet Presidents Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo for a similar briefing ahead of the SADC Troika summit on Thurday.

The meeting will tackle Zimbabwe's protracted crisis among other issues.

Mr. Tsvangirai, who said recently that the power-sharing government was dysfunctional, was back in Harare Tuesday to take part in the crucial vote for House Speaker before leaving for the DRC and Tanzania.

The MDC leader has spent the last several weeks criss-crossing the region, seeking support for a more energetic regional role in resolving the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

He says SADC must follow through on its commitment as a guarantor of the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing that underpins Harare's national unity government.

Chairman, Kabinga Pande of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ on Politics and Defence said Tuesday SADC facilitators are trying to address tensions in three countries in the region, including Zimbabwe.

Political analyst Walter Nsununguli Mbongolwane commended Tsvangirai’s efforts, though saying he should put more effort on solving the problems from within the country.

Another commentator, Trevor Maisiri was more optimistic, telling VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that SADC can break the impasse if it really wants.

Meanwhile, about 30 youths from the Tsvangirai MDC, allegedly abducted by armed police on Monday, have been located in police detention. The youths, aged between 15 and 31, were picked up in the Bulawayo suburbs of Trenance and Richmond.

Elsewhere, the London-based Zimbabwe Vigil is reviving a campagin to presure the European Union to penalize SADC member countries, arguing they are not doing enough to end the crisis in Harare.

In a petition handed to a British parliamentarian, the Vigil urged the EU to suspend government-to-government aid to all fourteen SADC countries until they “abide by their joint commitment to uphold human rights in the region.”

Vigil director Rose Benton told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo the petition will force EU governments to consider all available options in dealing with Harare, even if they do not take the stark move of stopping funding for SADC countries.