THE MDC and Zanu PF this week embarked on a diplomatic offensive in the region ahead of Sundayâ€™s Sadc Summit in South Africa
where regional leaders are expected to come down hard on President Robert Mugabe and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai to remove the deadlock on allocation of cabinet portfolios.
Sources in both parties told the Zimbabwe Independent that teams of senior politicians have been dispatched into the region and the continent.
The MDC leadership, the sources said, was lobbying regional leaders to back its position for an equitable power-sharing with Mugabe.
Tsvangirai this week held talks with the presidents of Botswana and South Africa, Ian Khama and Kgalema Motlanthe respectively, on the political crisis in Zimbabwe.
Motlanthe is the current Sadc chairperson and will preside over the Sunday summit while Khama has been highly critical of Mugabeâ€™s rule since the March 29 harmonised polls.
The sources said Tsvangirai met African Union chairperson Jakaya Kikwete in Tanzania on Wednesday, while MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti was yesterday expected to lead a team of party officials to Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana.
Thokozani Khupe, Tsvangiraiâ€™s deputy, travelled to Zambia and another team of officials was sent to Mozambique.
â€œThe party has been on a mission to engage regional and African leaders and the countries we have covered so far include Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania,â€ one of the sources said. â€œThe party intends to visit all the Sadc countries, including those hostile to us.â€
Tsvangirai is expected to travel to Swaziland and Lesotho before the Sunday summit while Biti would travel to Angola and Namibia for further lobbying.
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson, yesterday said his party does not discuss its strategies with the media.
â€œThe only engagement and lobbying we will do is on Sunday at the Sadc summit in South Africa and I will not pre-empt anything on the party strategy,â€ Chamisa said.Â â€œWe will engage the regional leaders in Pretoria over the weekend. President Tsvangirai has not been issued with a new passport, but he will attend the summit.â€
On the other hand, Zanu PF has reportedly dispatched its legal secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday on a diplomatic charm offensive in the region to counter that of the MDC.
Mnangagwa has since visited Angola where he reportedly held meetings with President JosÃ© Eduardo dos Santos. He has also held a meeting with Kikwete. He was expected to meet embattled DRC president Joseph Kabila.
Sadc leaders are expected to adopt a tough stance against Mugabe and Tsvangirai and force them to compromise on power-sharing because they feel that the impasse is now becoming a major threat to regional stability.
The South African government yesterday said it would take a firm position on Zimbabwe on Sunday.
â€œThe failure of the parties to agree is something that is becoming a major political hindrance to the stability that we desire in southern Africa,â€ South African cabinet spokesman Themba Maseko told reporters in Pretoria. â€œWe are indeed taking a very firm position as government that the parties understand the urgency of finding a settlement.â€
He said it was South Africaâ€™s view that the regional leaders must take urgent steps to make sure a political solution was found.
â€œThis is becoming a matter of extreme concern to us and we will be taking quite a hard stance to make sure that agreement is reached,â€ Maseko added.
Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africaâ€™s ruling party, on Wednesday said the 15-nation regional bloc should pressure Zimbabweâ€™s rival leaders to clinch a deal.
â€œI think Sadc must put its pressure more strongly to these colleagues because what happens in Zimbabwe has an effect on the region,â€ the ANC president said. â€œI think the region should say to the Zimbabwe leaders that enough is enough. You must resolve this matter; you canâ€™t leave South Africa without resolving this matter. That is what I am expecting.â€
By Constantine Chimakure/Loughty Dube