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Clergy lay groundwork for resumption of talks

Itai Dzamara

THE troika of local church leaders met Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Zanu PF’s secretary for inf

ormation Nathan Shamuyarira on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for a resumption of talks, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.

Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe head Bishop Trevor Manhanga yesterday confirmed the clergymen met Tsvangirai and Shamuyarira separately in “preparatory meetings”.

“We met Dr Shamuyarira and the MDC leader on Wednesday. We met them to continue our initiative towards dialogue,” said Manhanga.

“These were preparatory meetings but at this stage we can’t give details. We will be issuing a statement soon.”

The other members of the troika are Bishop Sebastian Bakare and Bishop Patrick Mutume.

Sources privy to the meetings said they succeeded in producing undertakings from both sides and looked set to lay the platform for talks to begin. MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube yesterday confirmed Tsvangirai had met the church leaders but said he was yet to be briefed about the discussions.

“The churches met Zanu PF and Tsvangirai yesterday (Wednesday) but we are yet to be briefed about the outcome of the meetings,” said Ncube.

Ncube however denied media reports suggesting the opposition was engaged in behind-the-scenes negotiations with Zanu PF to address the issues of draconian laws, the militias and the ban on the Daily News before talks can begin. He said the MDC was still of the position that talks should commence without preconditions.

“Our position has not changed, and it is that Zanu PF should come to the negotiating table unconditionally. We have said that we don’t want any conditions because we would be bogged down by Zanu PF, which would play around issues such as that of withdrawing our election petition,” Ncube said.

“All issues of concern to both sides should be discussed through the talks’ agenda. In other words, instead of setting any conditions, we prefer having those issues as subjects on the talks’ agenda,” said Ncube.

Although Ncube wouldn’t give the current position of the talks saying the Zanu PF delegation leader Patrick Chinamasa has been away on leave and would be back next week, sources said there was general agreement by both parties for talks to begin.

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