Zimbabwe ready to move forward - Zuma

Friday, August 28, 2009

Harare - President Jacob Zuma says Zimbabwean leaders are ready to tackle political and social challenges head-on.

He was speaking at a gala dinner in his honour in Harare on Thursday night.

President Zuma said he was encouraged by how Zimbabwe's unity government had put their differences aside to serve ordinary citizens.

"We are all encouraged by how the three parties put their differences aside in the service of this country. It is indeed very encouraging to note the significant progress that has been made under the auspices of the Inclusive Government."

He said the inclusive government had made significant progress since its formation. "These positive developments are a result of the historic signing of the Global Political Agreement and the subsequent formation of the inclusive government."

President Zuma said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) remained at its disposal for assistance.

"We remain very committed as guarantors of the implementation of the Global Political Agreement and partners, to continue working with the Zimbabwean people to find solutions," the President said.

He said the remaining issues were not insurmountable and could be overcome.

"The most difficult path has already been travelled ... The bonds that united us when we battled the inhuman systems of apartheid and colonialism still guide us today as we endeavour to build a better life for all our people."

Both President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai greeted President Zuma at the airport on Thursday, where he received a 21-gun salute and his signature song "Umshini Wami" (which means Bring Me My Machine Gun), was played.

Zimbabwe's inclusive government, now just over six-months old, is believed to be on shaky ground with high tensions between the political leaders.

Mr Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), recently appealed to the South African government to help resolve conflict over certain appointments, while the ZANU PF, the party chaired by President Mugabe, have claimed the MDC is dragging its feet on efforts to convince the west to remove their sanctions.

Talks between the principals, who signed the Zimbabwe political agreement, are to begin early Friday with President Zuma. His findings will likely inform discussions at the next SADC summit next month.

The regional bloc has pledged an economic rescue package for Zimbabwe, on condition that its leadership demonstrate there commitment to the implementation of the Global Political Agreement.