SADC will discuss the political situation in Zimbabwe at its meeting Friday in Angola with the stand-off over the timing of new elections expected to top the deliberations.
Foreign Affairs secretary Joey Bimha had denied Monday that Zimbabwe was on the agenda in Angola, telling The Herald newspaper: “In the customary SADC tradition, extraordinary summits are one item agenda and in this particular case regional integration is the agenda for SADC.
“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.”
This was despite President Robert Mugabe dispatching top aides, Vice President John Nkomo as well as Ministers Emmerson Mngangagwa and Sydney Sekeramayi to lobby regional leaders ahead of the meeting.
But The Herald made an about-turn Wednesday and claimed last minute changes meant SADC's organ on defence and security called the Troika would now review the situation in the country.
“Sadc made a last-minute decision yesterday (Monday) evening. The double Troika will meet and review the situation in Zimbabwe and Madagascar,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed government official as saying.
“We cannot be seen to be arguing with Sadc. The double Troika is a routine meeting. It would report its findings to the summit.”
Meanwhile, the leaders MDC formations confirmed they had been invited to attend the meeting by the SADC secretariat.
The MDC-T said that party leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is currently on an official visit to China, would travel be in Angola Friday.
“I can confirm that we have been invited by Sadc and the Prime Minister will attend. Zimbabwe is on the summit agenda, everyone who thinks otherwise would be disappointed,” said Energy Minister Elton Mangoma.
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara added: “We are travelling to Angola where there is a Troika meeting on Zimbabwe. I am leaving tomorrow (Wednesday).”
Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube, who leads the other MDC formation, is also expected to travel to be in Luanda.
SADC, represented by South Africa President Jacob Zuma, is facilitating dialogue over the implementation of political reforms agreed under the GPA as well as helping craft a road-map to new elections.
Mugabe wants new polls this year to end the coalition government.
The Zanu PF leader has threatened to name an election date, accusing his rivals of deliberately stalling constitutional reforms in order to delay the polls.
Writing of the new constitution has been hampered by endless disagreements between the parties over various issues including devolution and dual citizenship.
But the MDC formations claim Mugabe does not have the authority to unilaterally declare an election date and accuse the Zanu PF leader of blocking other key political reforms needed to ensure a credible poll.
Both Tsvangirai and Mutambara insist new elections are only viable by March, 2013.