Zimbabwe power sharing deal in "Last chance Saloon"

Motlanthe says Zimbabwe’s political impasse cannot be allowed to drag on forever. He says he hopes the extra-ordinary SADC summit, to be held in Sandton tomorrow, will come up with a lasting solution.

The extra-ordinary summit was called after the SADC Troika on Defence, Politics and Security failed to broker a settlement on cabinet allocations in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya Moyo says they are anxious about tomorrow’s SADC heads of states summit, which will be the final push to resolve the current political stalemate in that country.

Leaders of the 15-nation regional bloc are due to meet in Johannesburg. They will try and solve the impasse between President Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai over the allocation of cabinet posts under the power-sharing deal, which was reached in September.

A political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe has forced millions of Zimbabweans to leave their country, mainly to South Africa, to escape food shortages and high inflation.

"At the moment they are quibbling around the distribution of ministries. We think this is a luxury we can least afford," South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said on SABC radio.

"They should be striving to form one government for the people of Zimbabwe so that they can begin to tackle the challenges of economic recovery and political stability."

The Southern African Development Community is due to meet in Johannesburg on Sunday to try to solve an impasse between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over allocating cabinet posts under a power-sharing deal they reached in September.

South Africa’s government on Thursday said it would take a tough stand at the summit. This was a sharp change from the style of former President Thabo Mbeki, whose softly-softly approach as official southern African mediator has been criticised as ineffective.

SADC’s Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao told reporters: "We have to be always optimistic. We need to have an optimistic approach when it comes to Zimbabwe."

"I believe it is the hope of the Zimbabweans, the hope of the region, that we will have an inclusive government in place so that it can concentrate on the burning issues … in particular the humanitarian part. Time is not on our side."

Past meetings of regional heads of state have failed to produce a breakthrough and there were signs that the parties may face another round of difficult negotiations.

Salamao said Tsvangirai was in South Africa for the summit and Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara of the smaller MDC faction were invited but had not yet arrived.