Southern African leaders to meet on Zimbabwe crisis

2009-11-05 10:24

Southern African regional leaders meet on Thursday in the

Mozambican capital Maputo for a summit aimed at reviving the troubled

power-sharing agreement in Zimbabwe, deadlocked for nearly three weeks.

The meeting will bring together the members of Zimbabwe’s stalled

unity government - President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and

deputy premier Arthur Mutambara.

They will hold talks with leaders from the Democratic Republic of

Congo, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia.

“We’re here to continue to help the Zimbabweans in their difficult

journey,” said Tomaz Salomao, secretary general of the Southern African

Development Community (SADC), the regional bloc that brokered Zimbabwe’s unity


“One thing I can guarantee is that there is a commitment from all

the Zimbabwean parties to make the political agreement work, to make the unity

government work, given the positive results it’s achieved in its nine months of


Long-time rivals Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed to form a unity

government in February in the wake of deadly violence that followed disputed

elections last year.

The pact helped arrest Zimbabwe’s economic free-fall and created an

opening to repair its international ties amid Western calls for greater signs of

reform from Mugabe, the country’s ruler since 1980.

But the agreement has been plagued by disputes over the appointment

of provincial governors and Mugabe’s unilateral re-appointment of central bank

chief Gideon Gono and attorney general Johannes Tomana.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) also claims its

lawmakers have been targeted for government persecution.

Tsvangirai’s decision to suspend ties on October 16 was sparked by

the renewed detention of MDC treasurer Roy Bennett on terrorism charges.

Armed police raided Bennett’s house last month claiming they were

searching for weapons. But the MDC accused Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and security

forces opposed to the unity government of staging the raid for political


After cutting ties with the “dishonest and unreliable” Mugabe camp,

Tsvangirai embarked on a regional tour, appealing to southern African leaders to

intervene in the stand-off.

Thursday’s summit was organised by regional bloc SADC’s security

and defence troika, which currently comprises Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia

and is chaired by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza.

Leaders from the troika countries, current SADC chair the

Democratic Republic of Congo and regional power broker South Africa will hear a

report from a fact-finding mission that visited Zimbabwe last week, said


He said the summit will also address the political situations in

Lesotho and Madagascar, both of which have been plagued by instability in recent



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