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Zuma Arrives in Zimbabwe to Monitor Progress on Reforms


South African President Jacob Zuma, center, is greeted upon arrival in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 15, 2012.

South African President Jacob Zuma, center, is greeted upon arrival in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 15, 2012.

HARARE — South African President and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediator Jacob Zuma has arrived in Zimbabwe to meet with the country’s coalition partners ahead of a regional summit set for later this week. He is expected to get an update on a draft constitution for Zimbabwe that could go to voters in the form of a referendum by the end of this year.

The South African leader arrived in Harare late Wednesday and immediately went into closed door meetings. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, the leader of the ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party, formed a fragile coalition government of unity in 2009 following disputed elections.

Douglas Mwonzora, a spokesperson for a government-appointed constitution-making committee, said Zuma was in Zimbabwe to monitor progress on reforms that African regional leaders expect from the Zimbabwean leadership in preparation for elections. The first of the reforms that SADC leaders want in Zimbabwe is a new constitution.

"We have completed the constitution draft," said Mwonzora. "The Global Political Agreement is clear on what we do from here. Let us stick to the Global Political Agreement and not re-invent other steps."

The other steps Mwonzora is referring to are demands by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party to revise the draft constitution that reduces the powers of the presidency and increases the control of parliament in Zimbabwean politics.

After meeting Zimbabwean leaders Zuma is going to Mozambique where he will brief regional leaders on the progress in Zimbabwe’s reforms.

If a referendum on a new constitution can be held in Zimbabwe later this year, elections are possible in 2013.
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