Zuma to confront intransigent Robert Mugabe


    South African President Jacob Zuma met for an hour Monday with Zimbabwe’s former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

    Zuma chairs the regional bloc that persuaded Tsvangirai and longtime Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to form their coalition in February. Tsvangirai has accused Mugabe’s party of blocking reforms.

    Tsvangirai’s party has called for a regional summit to try to resolve the coalition’s problems. Zuma did not mention a summit Monday after meeting with Tsvangirai in Johannesburg. But he promised to talk with Mugabe and other regional leaders.

    The comments came after Zuma met with Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, whose Movement for Democratic Change formed the coalition government with Mugabe’s party.

    While some progress has been made in implementing the agreement in Zimbabwe, remaining problems are “difficult, but very weighty,” Zuma told journalists in Johannesburg today.

    Mugabe agreed to share power with the MDC after his party failed to win a majority of seats in parliament and pressure mounted from the international community to end the political impasse. The accord aimed to clear the way for renewed foreign investment and aid, and help the economy recover from a decade- long recession.

    Tsvangirai said he hoped Zuma will “do everything in his power to move forward in a positive way.”

    Zuma will also contact other leaders in the Southern African Development Community, who helped brokered the Zimbabwe accord.

    Under the power-sharing agreement, Zimbabwe must negotiate a new Constitution and hold elections within 2 years of that. Mugabe is delaying Constitutional talks in a bid to scuttle the coalition government and avoid elections, in which he may not be allowed to compete, 2 members of his party’s decision-making body said on July 13.