Tsvangirai set to lobby heads of state before troika meeting

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will this week launch a regional diplomatic offensive to lobby heads of state on the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) as it emerges that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) troika meeting to discuss Zimbabwe's political crisis might be held next week.

Facilitator to Zimbabwe’s political problems, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, who was in Harare two weeks ago to mediate between Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe over disagreements in the unity government, announced the troika would be held next month.

However, the Sunday Times report understands there are moves to push the troika to next week, prompting Tsvangirai to go for lobbying.

It is understood that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader will first travel to Pretoria, where he will meet Zuma. Tsvangirai will brief Zuma on the progress made since the South African president mediated two weeks ago and managed to persuade the Zimbabwean prime minister and Mugabe to resume working together. The meeting between Zuma and Tsvangirai is set for Wednesday.

From Pretoria, Tsvangirai is scheduled to travel to Malawi to meet President Bingu wa Mutharika. Tsvangirai will lobby him both as a member of SADC and as the chairman of the African Union (AU).

Both the AU and SADC are guarantors to the GPA and it is believed the prime minister will raise complaints about Mugabe’s reluctance to fully implement the agreement.

Tsvangirai is also planning a meeting with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who is known to be critical of Mugabe, for further lobbying.

An insider in Tsvangirai’s office said: "We have been made to understand the troika meeting is likely to take place in the next two weeks instead of next year so we have to plan ahead.

"We are privileged to have President Mutharika as the chairman of the AU and he is also a member of the SADC, so it will be very important to meet him."

The outcome of the meeting between Tsvangirai and Mutharika will be very interesting given that the Malawian president has of late been preaching democracy and at the same time he is a close ally of Mugabe.

Last week he asked Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo to hand over power to Alassane Ouattara, saying Ouattara had won the elections.

Mutharika said it was time African leaders respected the will of the people at the ballot box and Zimbabweans will be watching how he deals with Mugabe, who himself is known not to be interested in giving up power.