"Wait for President Zuma," Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change, told reporters as he emerged from the meeting in the capital’s state-owned luxury Rainbow Towers hotel.

He appeared tense as he left with Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, head of the smaller faction of the MDC.

Zuma smiled but ignored questions when he left with President Robert Mugabe, equally mute to reporters. Zuma was due to open the annual Harare agricultural show later on Friday before returning to South Africa.

Zuma arrived on Thursday on a two-day visit ostensibly as guest of honour at the show, but observers say the main purpose is to respond to appeals from Tsvangirai to press Mugabe, his partner in the power- sharing government, to honour his obligations in the coalition agreement they signed up to in September last year.

Tsvangirai’s MDC says the 85-year-old Mugabe has been blocking the transition to democratic rule by using security forces to maintain an environment of repression, stalling on media reform, allowing violent invasions of white farms to continue and holding on to control key government departments by installing veteran cronies of his Zanu-PF party.

Zuma spent two hours each in separate meetings with Mugabe and Tsvangirai on Thursday night. At a banquet last night Zuma kept his remarks uncontroversial, referring to the significant progress made by the coalition government, and said that the remaining issues are not insurmountable.

Zuma is regarded as the most important player in the Zimbabwe crisis, as South Africa was the broker of the talks last year that brought about the power-sharing agreement in Zimbabwe. – SAPA