President Jacob Zuma of South Africa arrived in Harare Wednesday in an attempt to resolve conflicts in Zimbabwe’s coalition government ahead of a summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) set for Mozambique this weekend.
President Zuma arrived at the Harare International Airport in the evening and was met by Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, Information Minister Webster Shamhu and the party’s national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo.
Mr. Zuma refused to answer questions from journalists regarding his trip to Harare before leaving the airport for the Rainbow Towers to meet President Robert Mugabe.
He is expected to hold separate talks with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his deputy Arthur Mutambara and the leader of the other Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation, Industry Minister Welshman Ncube.
Meanwhile, SADC executive secretary of Tomaz Salomao has expressed optimism that Harare will be able to hold elections in 2013.
Salomao said the regional body will not allow a repeat of the 2008 presidential election run-off marred by violence.
He made the remarks in Maputo Tuesday ahead of the SADC summit, a statutory meeting of the 15-nation regional body which convenes annually in August.
Salomao is attending the council of ministers’ meeting which opened Wednesday ahead of the heads of state meeting Friday.
The SADC secretary said the region had allowed the government of national unity to continue functioning in order to pave the way for wide-ranging reforms.
Salomao said Harare’s coalition partners had assured him a constitutional referendum will be held in October and a general election within the next six to eight months.
President Zuma is expected to present a report on Harare at the summit.Zimbabwe civic groups have joined hands with other regional non-governmental organizations to push for democratic reforms in the region.
Dewa Mavhinga of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said they will stage demonstrations and petition regional leaders to push Harare to implement key reforms.
At the same time, President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe’s population census is an important national exercise which must be done in a harmonious, fair and objective manner for it to yield credible results.
Officially launching the 2012 population census, President Mugabe said the census will give Zimbabwe the capacity to successfully navigate its socio-economic and political processes.