SA sends envoy to Zim

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma, mediator in Zimbabwe's power-sharing dispute, this week sent a special envoy on a mission to that country amid rising tensions in the unity government.

Mac Maharaj arrived in Zimbabwe this week with the aim of resolving some longstanding and new contentious issues ahead of the crucial Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting in Namibia next week.

Maharaj would meet with negotiators from ZANU-PF and both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change.

President Robert Mugabe and his Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have remained deadlocked on certain parts of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

With the help of the SADC troika, Zuma has been relentlessly pushing parties in Zimbabwe to reach a deal, and now he seems within close range of a final agreement.

International Relations and Co-operation Director General Ayanda Ntsaluba, on Thursday, said most of the outstanding issues had been dealt with, except the swearing-in of Roy Bennett and the appointment of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana.

He said President Zuma's focus was to ensure that the unity government was working - which all parties have also committed to.

He added that South Africa and the SADC remained committed to assisting in resolving the economic crisis in that country.

Ntsaluba said they were encouraged by the decision by the diamond watchdog Kimberley Process.

Last month, the watchdog approved the export of rough diamonds from the controversial Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe suspended over rights abuses at the country's biggest diamond fields.

The SADC Summit is scheduled to take place on 16 August in Zambia's capital Windhoek. Zuma, who is the bloc's official mediator, is expected to brief the summit on the problems bedevilling the Harare unity government.

SADC will be meeting to discuss issues affecting the region, said Ntsaluba. Critical issues which have been on the agenda for a while include the Lesotho, Madagascar and Zimbabwe situations.

Namibia's President Hifikepunye Pohamba is expected to take over the chairmanship of the regional body from President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).