SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team held meetings with GPA negotiators in Harare on Monday ahead of an extraordinary summit of SADC leaders which is set for Angola this Friday.
Zuma is SADC’s point-man for Zimbabwe and is helping facilitate dialogue between the three main parties in the coalition government over political reforms and a so-called roadmap to new elections.
The dialogue has stalled and the parties disagree on the timing of new elections, with Zanu PF insisting the polls must be held before year-end while the MDC factions want political reforms completed first.
Foreign affairs secretary Joey Bimha dismissed speculation that Zimbabwe was topping the agenda of the regional leaders’ Angola meeting.
“In the customary SADC tradition, extraordinary summits are one item agenda and in this particular case regional integration is the agenda for SADC,” he said.
“If there are any other issues brought before the summit, there would be mere reports for noting by Heads of State and not agenda items for discussion. It is under these circumstances that the summit in Angola would be held.”
But President Robert Mugabe has, over the past two weeks, dispatched top aides to lobby regional leaders ahead of the meeting.
Vice President, John Nkomo, was sent to Botswana to deliver a special message to President Ian Khama. Defence Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, delivered a special message to the Presidents of Angola and Mozambique while State Security Minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, met the leaders of Zambia and Tanzania.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is presently on an official visit to China, is also expected to attend the SADC meeting.
“It is true that the PM is going to Angola for the summit, but I do not have the details,” MDC-T spokesman, Douglas Mwonzora, said.
Mugabe will need the backing of regional colleagues if he is to push through plans for new elections this year to replace the coalition government, which all the parties agree is no longer workable due to policy differences.
The Zanu PF leader has threatened to name an election date if no progress is made in ongoing constitutional reforms but his rivals say he does not have the authority to unilaterally call for elections.
Both Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara insist that new elections are only viable in March next year.