Zimbabwe leaders happy with Zuma talks so far

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Zimbabwe’s bickering leaders were upbeat yesterday about talks brokered by South African President Jacob Zuma to help resolve differences in their power-sharing government.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed a unity government last year to end a stalemate over disputed elections and try to end a crisis that helped drag Zimbabwe into economic ruin.

The deal has stabilised the economy but squabbling within the fragile alliance over policy and the slow pace of reforms have held back progress and stood in the way of fresh elections.

Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai were positive after talking separately with Zuma in a central Harare hotel, and all the parties were due to meet today.
“It went very well as usual,” Mugabe told reporters at the hotel. “We have just started, discussions are going very well. We are very happy and there are no controversies.”

Asked how his meeting went, Tsvangirai said: “Very well, but why don’t you wait until we have concluded.”

Zuma was appointed to mediate in the crisis by regional grouping SADC, taking from former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who brokered the original deal in late 2008.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change boycotted cabinet meetings late last year due to the dispute over the implementation of the deal.

The party is particularly unhappy about central bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, both Mugabe loyalists, remaining in their posts.

Justice Minister and Zanu-PF negotiator Patrick Chinamasa said talks would continue after Zuma’s visit, with negotiators set to meet again on March 26 and 29.
“The whole purpose of this meeting is to advise the facilitator of the progress that we have made so far. It will not be the end of the matter, we should meet as negotiators and conclude our negotiations which we’ll do on those dates.”
“We will conclude our discussions and spell out matters we have agreed on and those we disagree on,” he said.

Western donors have held back aid essential to help rebuild the country, saying the 86-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled the southern Africa country since 1980, must first implement concrete human rights and democratic reforms.

Former colonial ruler Britain rebuffed a call by Zuma this month to end targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his allies.

Pic: President- Jacob Zuma (R) of SA and Robert Mugabe (L) of Zimbabwe

Source: www.af.reuters.com