SADC leaders begin third summit on Zimbabwe political crisis


Pretoria : The leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) began an extraordinary summit here in South Africa Monday, in yet another attempt to eke a compromise from Zimbabwe’s rival leaders on power-sharing, BuaNews reported.

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Both Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai are present at the meeting which is underway at the Presidential guesthouse in Pretoria and chaired by South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.

The summit, the bloc’s third such summit on Zimbabwe in less than a year, is convened to find an amicable solution to the political deadlock that has shrouded Zimbabwe’s political landscape since elections in mid-2008.

The power sharing agreement signed by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, the head of the minor faction of MDC, on Sep 15 last year is yet to be implemented.

The agreement made provision for the creation of the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister under constitutional amendment 19, which still needs to be passed by Zimbabwe’s Parliament.

Under the agreement, which was facilitated by SADC facilitator and former South African President Thabo Mbeki, Mugaba would remain president, while Tsvangirai would take up the position of prime minister with Mutambara as his deputy.

However, the parties have been unable to agree on key cabinet ministries, including home affairs.

The political deadlock in Zimbabwe has exacerbated the socio-economic crisis which has led to the highest inflation figure in the world, a collapse of the once-thriving agricultural industry and business sectors and a shutdown of infrastructure.

The outbreak of a cholera in Zimbabwe has infected over 50,000 Zimbabweans and killed over 2,500 people.

The African Union (AU), SADC, the UN as well as international pressure groups will all be hoping for a resolution by the end of proceedings Monday, as peace and prosperity in Zimbabwe is crucial to regional growth and investment.

The convening of the summit Monday follows a decision made during a meeting held Jan 19 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The meeting was attended by Motlanthe, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, who is the deputy chairperson of SADC’s Politics, Defence and Security organ, Mbeki as well as Mugabe and the two MDC leaders.