SA growing impatient with Zimbabwe impasse: Zuma

JOHANNESBURG – ANC President Jacob Zuma has signalled to Zimbabwean leaders that South Africa may be getting impatient with the way power-sharing talks are stalling. Zuma says Zimbabwean leaders should not be allowed to apply delaying tactics which could derail power-sharing talks.\r\n

Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders will hold an emergency summit in Pretoria on Sunday aimed at breaking a deadlock in negotiations. Zuma says the weekend talks are a last opportunity to compromise on political disagreements.

He says he agrees with those calling on SADC to exert more political pressure on President Robert Mugabe and the MDC to immediately enforce the September 15 power-sharing deal.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s government has also accused Botswana President Ian Khama of interference.

It says his call for fresh elections to solve Zimbabwe’s political crisis was an act of extreme provocation. Khama, who has emerged as one of Mugabe’s staunchest critics in Africa, has told Botswana’s parliament that an election was the only way out of the deadlock that has thrown a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and the opposition MDC into doubt.

Zanu PF Robert Mugabe’s regime on Wednesday accused Botswanan President Ian Khama of interference and said his call for fresh elections to solve Zimbabwe’s political crisis was an "act of extreme provocation".

Khama, who has emerged as one of Mugabe’s staunchest critics in Africa, told Botswana’s parliament on Monday that an election was the only way out of the deadlock that threatens to derail a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and the opposition MDC.

"The statement he has made to his country is an act of extreme provocation to Zimbabwe," Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying in Zimbabwe’s state-controlled Herald newspaper.

"He has no right under international law as an individual or country to interfere in our domestic affairs."

The diplomatic row occurred just days before the Southern African Development Community, a 15-nation regional bloc, was scheduled to hold an emergency summit in South Africa to discuss the political stalemate in Zimbabwe.

A smaller SADC meeting in Harare in October failed to break the impasse.

Mugabe and the leaders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change agreed on September 15 to share power, but talks have stalled over control of ministries.

Setting up a unity government is seen as critical to reversing an economic meltdown in the southern African nation.

Zimbabweans are struggling to survive amid widespread shortages of meat, milk and other basic commodities as a result of the collapse of the agricultural sector. The country is dependent on food handouts and malnutrition is on the rise.

Tsvangirai, would would become prime minister under the power-sharing deal, has accused Mugabe’s Zanu-PF of trying to seize the lion’s share of important ministries to try to relegate the MDC to the role of junior partner.

The MDC won a March parliamentary election.