Mugabe-Zuma on collision course

Fierce confrontation is looming between President Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe at a regional summit that starts in Johannesburg on Friday.

Mugabe and Zuma will come face-to-face for the first time since their fallout after a Southern African Development Community troika meeting in Livingstone, Zambia, in March when his fellow-SADC leaders read Mugabe the riot act.

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Zimbabwe’s political crisis will be discussed at the summit in Johannesburg from June 10 to 12 where SADC members will hold talks on a free trade pact with two other regional groupings.

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The crisis was supposed to have been tackled at last month’s SADC summit in Windhoek, but the issue was postponed because Zuma could not attend.

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Mugabe had wanted to confront Zuma, who is SADC’s facilitator for Zimbabwe’s inter-party negotiations, in Windhoek over the Livingstone summit communiqué. Mugabe has described the outcome of the Livingstone meeting as “shocking”.

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Zuma and his colleagues on the troika for politics, defence and security – presidents Rupiah Banda of Zambia and Armando Guebuza of Mozambique – joined SADC chairman, President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, in warning Mugabe they were disappointed and growing increasingly impatient.

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Mugabe lashed out at Zuma and other SADC leaders, saying their role was not to dictate to him but only to facilitate talks. This opened the floodgates for Mugabe loyalists and Zanu PF politburo members, particularly Jonathan Moyo, to attack Zuma and other SADC leaders, claiming the regional body needed them more than they needed it.

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In Windhoek, Mugabe managed to ensure the SADC tribunal, which had handed down rulings challenging his land reform programme, was suspended.

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Zuma insists there can be no elections in Zimbabwe until conditions for free and fair polls have been created. This is in direct conflict with Mugabe’s position which he repeated this week.

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Zuma’s team of facilitators was in Zimbabwe this week to try to finalise an elections road map. – Timeslive