Zimbabwe may soon collapse say Annan, Carter

"They believe the situation is very bad. They believe things could collapse in a few months time in Zimbabwe," Zuma told reporters after meeting Annan, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and other prominent figures.

Annan, Carter and Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, are part of a group of prominent figures and former statesmen called The Elders. They were barred by Zimbabwe from visiting to assess a humanitarian crisis there this weekend.

President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), headed by Morgan Tsvangirai are due to hold another round of talks in South Africa this week to seek a breakthrough in stalled power-sharing talks.

Zuma said it was clear that Zimbabwe’s crisis had deteriorated to such an extent that there was an urgent need for action.

"The situation has gone (beyond) where we could say ‘wait and see’," he said, adding that the ANC will be sending a delegation to Zimbabwe to assess the situation in the country.

"We are pleading for the leadership (of the ruling party and opposition) for the sake of the people to find a solution that would help them move forward," Zuma said.

The power struggle between Mugabe and his old foe Tsvangirai has overshadowed daily hardships including food and fuel shortages and hyperinflation that have driven millions of Zimbabweans out of the country and strained regional economies.

A cholera outbreak that has killed at least 294 people has seen hundreds of Zimbabweans infected with the disease streaming across the South African border to seek treatment, South African media reported on Monday.

Doubts have grown over Zimbabwe’s September 15 power-sharing agreement and Mugabe is trying to push through a constitutional amendment allowing him to name a cabinet alone, which could lead to the unravelling of the deal with the opposition.

Tsvangirai has refused to enter the government, accusing Mugabe of trying to grab the powerful ministries. The main obstacle in talks is the issue of who runs the home affairs ministry, which oversees the police.