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28 Aug 2009 09:37
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has told Zimbabwean leaders the problems facing their fractious unity government can be overcome.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai set up a coalition government in February to end a political and economic crisis, but have been feuding over implementing their agreement.
Zuma began a two-day visit to Zimbabwe on Thursday—his first since becoming president in May—aimed at keeping the power-sharing deal on track.
Recovery in once relatively prosperous Zimbabwe is important for South Africa given the millions of Zimbabweans driven to seek work in their much wealthier neighbour by a decade of economic decline and political crisis.
In a speech to a dinner hosted by Mugabe late on Thursday, Zuma said any outstanding disputes on the agreement brokered by his predecessor Thabo Mbeki could be resolved through mediation.
“The remaining issues are not insurmountable, and can be overcome. The most difficult path has already been travelled,” Zuma said.
He offered the help of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which he currently chairs.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s parties are wrangling over the appointment of top officials—including the central bank governor and attorney-general—over Western sanctions targeting Mugabe and over the pace of reform.
Zimbabwe says it needs $10-billion in foreign reconstruction aid, but has had little success in attracting it.
Although Zuma is expected to take a tougher approach to Zimbabwe than Mbeki, accused by critics of siding with Mugabe, political analysts believe he is unlikely to get the feuding parties to agree and will press them to keep talking.
“President Zuma is not coming as prosecutor or judge to the inclusive government, but will meet the principals to evaluate the progress of the agreement so far,” Tsvangirai was quoted as saying by the state-controlled Herald newspaper.—Reuters
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