Negotiators from Zimbabwe's rival parties are trying to reach a settlement before this weekend's regional summit, a spokesperson said on Friday.
Negotiators from Zimbabwe’s rival parties are meeting to try to reach a settlement to the country’s crisis before this weekend’s regional summit, a spokesperson for an opposition faction said on Friday.
“They are trying to come to a settlement before the Southern African Development Community [SADC] meeting tomorrow,” said Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesperson for Arthur Mutambara, who heads a smaller faction of Zimbabwe’s opposition.
“They are already in South Africa at the moment and they are discussing, they are actually negotiating,” said Mushoriwa.
A summit of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community will be held in South Africa this weekend.
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai arrived in Johannesburg earlier on Friday after his travel documents were briefly seized by authorities at Harare airport the previous day.
President Robert Mugabe was expected to arrive later on Friday.
Power-sharing talks between the rivals were stalled when three days of negotiations adjourned on Tuesday after Tsvangirai said he needed more time to consider a deal agreed by Mugabe and Mutambara.
Tsvangirai said after his passport was seized on Thursday that he remained “hopeful” talks to resolve the country’s crisis would resume.
“The whole thing was going to be determined at this SADC summit,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s crisis intensified after Mugabe’s re-election in a June presidential run-off widely condemned as a sham.
Tsvangirai boycotted the run-off despite finishing ahead of Mugabe in the March first round, citing rising violence against his supporters.
The official Herald newspaper on Friday quoted a Zanu-PF official as saying power-sharing talks will resume at the summit.
“We are travelling to South Africa with President [Robert] Mugabe today [Friday] as the negotiations continue,” the Herald quoted the ruling Zanu-PF’s chief negotiator, Patrick Chinamasa, as saying.
“The talks never collapsed and all parties are committed to the dialogue. I would also want to confirm Zanu-PF’s commitment to see the talks end successfully sooner rather than later.”
Chinamasa said there was pressure for the country to convene Parliament and form a government.
“We cannot continue wandering around without direction, hence the need to swear in parliamentarians and open the house so that the elected members can continue to fulfil their constitutional mandate,” he said.
Botswana President Seretse Khama Ian Khama will boycott the summit if Zanu-PF and opposition fail to reach a power-sharing agreement, Botswana officials said on Thursday.
Chances for a breakthrough in the negotiations may depend on whether SADC can present a united front when trying to persuade all of Zimbabwe’s parties to bury their differences.
While Botswana has taken a tough line on Zimbabwe, calling on regional leaders not to recognise the re-election of Mugabe, South African President Thabo Mbeki, the chief mediator in the talks, has come under repeated fire for being too soft on Mugabe.
Mbeki, who would score a political coup if an agreement is reached on the sidelines of the summit, argues that piling pressure on the Zimbabwean president, who has been in power since 1980, would only raise tensions.—AFP, Reuters.