SOUTHERN African Development Community (Sadc) leaders have urged Zimbabwe’s political parties in the inclusive government to urgently resume working together, preferably by next week to salvage the arrangement which had stemmed the country’s disastrous decline.The resolutions of the Sadc troika on politics, defence and security could result in Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ministers returning to government next week after boycotting cabinet since last month in protest against President Robert Mugabe’s refusal to fully implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which led to the formation of the coalition arrangement in February.
The Sadc troika, chaired by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, was last night locked in critical meetings with Zimbabwe’s political leaders in a bid to find a solution to the crisis that erupted last month after Tsvangirai walked out.
Guebuza said Zimbabwe’s political parties must not allow the inclusive government to collapse for the good of the country.
“In relation to the issue of Zimbabwe, we want this troika meeting to reach an agreement on the promises made by the parties in order to iron out the present challenges and to prioritise issues of national interest,” Guebuza said.
“Along this line, all has to be done to maintain political stability in order for the continued influx of foreign investment which will help in the re-launch of the country’s economic activities. We also appeal to the parties to capitalise on the meeting in order to have a lasting solution which will be good for Zimbabwe and the whole region.”
Guebuza said Sadc would remain engaged on the Zimbabwe issue until a solution is found. “As Mozambique, our position is that Sadc must remain engaged on the emerging challenges in Zimbabwe to ensure they are effectively resolved,” said Guebuza.
Regional leaders are anxious to prevent the dispute in the inclusive government from deteriorating into a full-blown crisis which could collapse the coalition, renewing political instability within the region.
The meeting started late yesterday afternoon with Guebuza directing proceedings. Swazi King Mswati and a representative of Zambian President Rupiah Banda, who are members of the troika, assisted Guebuza.
To show urgency and give weight to the summit, Guebuza invited South African President Jacob Zuma, who played a critical role in pushing for a resolution of the situation, to attend.
Diplomatic sources said Sadc leaders, who were still locked in meetings late last night, would urge the GPA parties to fully implement the agreement. They would also recommend that negotiators of the parties should engage each other on the outstanding issues and make recommendations to their principals within 30 days.
Sources said Sadc leaders also want the facilitator — former South African President Thabo Mbeki — to remain seized with the matter to ensure implementation of the GPA.
Yesterday troika leaders and Zuma called President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara for a briefing and the adoption of the agenda for the summit. The agenda included Madagascar, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
After that, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara went out and the troika leaders, supported by Zuma, discussed the situation before calling the Zimbabwean leaders to come back for further talks. The second session took a long time as leaders haggled over issues.
The items on the official agenda included the MDC’s outstanding issues which include the appointment of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, provincial governors and the swearing-in of deputy Agriculture minister Roy Bennett.
Zanu PF’s grievances entailed sanctions, pirate radio stations, external interference and parallel government.
The agenda also has other remaining issues which encompass the establishment of the National Economic Council, constitution-making and the land audit.
The summit noted a ministerial team of the troika last week undertook a mission to Zimbabwe to review progress in the GPA implementation. The mission consulted all parties to the agreement and other stakeholders, getting a briefing on the political, social and economic fronts over the past nine months of the unity government.
The ministerial team told troika leaders that Zimbabwean parties had reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs had been running and performing well to the extent that co-ministers were now referred to as “twins”. It said there were however “structural challenges” receiving attention.
In trying to settle the dispute threatening the inclusive government, Sadc leaders said the parties in the GPA must “engage in dialogue to find a lasting solution to outstanding issues”.
They said Tsvangirai and the MDC must “consider resuming their participation in cabinet and activities of the inclusive government as a matter of urgency”.
Dumisani Muleya in Maputo