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Zimbabwean President Jacob Zuma to Meet All Factions in Harare

Published on Thursday 18th March 2010 Zimbabwean President Jacob Zuma to Meet All Factions in Harare

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma held brief talks last night with his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe soon after his arrival in Harare on an official visit during which he will hold critical talks with the country's bickering political leadership.

Zuma's intervention in Zimbabwe could determine the future of the weakening coalition government, formed last year in a desperate bid to halt the country's long-running political instability and precipitous economic collapse.

Zuma, who was not accompanied by any ministers, was welcomed at the airport by Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, among other senior officials.

Zuma will hold substantive talks with the three leaders today.

Official sources said issues which would weigh heavily on the talks during Zuma's visit included unresolved issues linked to the Global Political Agreement, which is the blueprint of the current government, the new constitution and future elections.

The sources also said Zuma was likely to raise concerns over Mugabe's indigenisation policy which threatens South African companies with seizures, and the plight of several South African farmers.

When he visited Zimbabwe last August, Zuma publicly urged Mugabe to "promote democracy, human rights and good governance". But the ruling Zanu (PF) has failed to implement several political reforms, while Mugabe has run roughshod over small gains made so far. Mugabe and Zuma held talks for 30 minutes last night at a local hotel in the capital Harare to start off what could prove to be difficult political bargaining over the next two days.

Meetings will start at 9.30am with Zuma meeting Mugabe, followed by separate talks with Tsvangirai and Mutambara.

Zuma will then meet the three men together.

Zuma's visit comes at a time when negotiations between the three political parties involved in the inclusive government were deadlocked. The parties have been in talks since November 23.

Zuma earlier met political parties' negotiators, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche for Zanu (PF), Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma for the main wing of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and Welshman Ncube and Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga for the smaller MDC faction. Zuma's facilitators are Charles Nqakula , Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe Zulu.

Issues include the appointment of provincial governors, the swearing in of MDC member Roy Bennett as a deputy minister, and the unilateral appointments of attorney-general Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono by Mugabe.

After Zuma's visit, the negotiators are set to resume talks on March 25. These talks could make or break the inclusive government.

Zuma's visit comes in the midst of renewed infighting within the coalition over new issues in dispute, which include ministerial mandates. On March 5 Mugabe stripped four MDC ministers, three from MDC-Tsvangirai and one from MDC-Mutambara, of their functions and powers. The functions and powers were allocated to Zanu (PF) ministers.

On January 25, Mugabe, through a memo written by the chief secretary to the president and cabinet Misheck Sibanda, stripped Tsvangirai of some of his powers and allocated them to his vice-presidents, Joyce Mujuru and John Nkomo.

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