SADCseeks breakthrough in Zimbabwe talks

MBABANE – Southern African leaders representing the regional grouping SADC hold a summit in Swaziland on Monday to try to help Zimbabwe's rival parties break a deadlock in negotiations on forming a cabinet.

MDC opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Sunday that he believed the parties would finalise a power-sharing deal at the meeting of the heads of state of Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland, who form SADC’s security committee.

A power-sharing agreement, mediated by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, may be Zimbabwe’s best hope for rescuing an economy where fuel and food are scarce and inflation stands at 231 million percent.

Tsvangirai seems confident of a breakthrough, telling supporters at a rally in the Zimbabwean town of Masvingo on Sunday that the power-sharing pact will be sealed at the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) talks in Swaziland’s capital Mbabane.

"This time we won’t fail," said the MDC leader, who threatened to pull out of talks a week ago after President Robert Mugabe allocated powerful ministries such as defence, finance and home affairs to his ruling ZANU-PF party.

Hours earlier, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the parties were "miles behind" in implementing the agreement.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, head of the smaller MDC faction, are expected to join the SADC troika in Swaziland.

President Kgalema Motlanthe of economic powerhouse South Africa, the current chair of SADC, will lead a delegation to the meeting, the Foreign Ministry said.

In remarks published in a state-run newspaper on Sunday, ZANU-PF’s chief negotiator, Patrick Chinamasa, played down the issue of cabinet post allocations.

He insisted that the party would not bow to any pressure from SADC, which has become increasingly frustrated by Zimbabwe’s political turmoil.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a March 29 presidential election but with too few votes to avoid a June run-off, which was won by Mugabe unopposed after Tsvangirai pulled out, citing violence and intimidation against his supporters. Reuters