Regional heads to tackle Zimbabwe crisis this week

Three southern African leaders will meet on Thursday to tackle a crisis threatening Zimbabwe’s unity government, a Zimbabwean official said.
Swaziland’s King Mswati III, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza and Zambian President Rupiah Banda will hold talks in Mozambique, hoping to help narrow differences between Zimbabwe’s leaders.
Zimbabwe’s unity government, which was formed in February, plunged into a new crisis last month after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party boycotted President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF over implementation of their power-sharing agreement.
“The troika will meet in Mozambique this Thursday as part of ongoing efforts to break the deadlock,” Tsvangirai’s spokesperson James Maridadi told Reuters. The three will represent the Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc.
The stand-off is the biggest crisis to hit Zimbabwe’s new government, which has managed to stabilise an economy ravaged by hyperinflation but is still severely strained by political disputes.
Western donors vital for Zimbabwe’s economic recovery want concrete signs that the new government can end political struggles, create a democracy and carry out economic reforms before providing funds to rebuild the country.
Tsvangirai has accused Mugabe of being a “dishonest and unreliable partner” for refusing to implement the power-sharing pact fully, particularly regarding senior appointments such as central bank governor and attorney-general.
The MDC also accuses ZANU-PF of persecuting its officials and holding back media and constitutional reforms which are vital for holding free and fair elections in about two years.
Mugabe says he has met his side of the power-sharing deal and insists the MDC must campaign for the lifting of Western sanctions against his ZANU-PF, including travel restrictions and a freeze on general financial aid to Zimbabwe.
Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, who is the SADC’s current chairman, arrived in Zimbabwe last week to meet the country’s feuding leaders.
Kabila said last week that the unity government remained Zimbabwe’s only option at the moment.

Pic: Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe