Southern African leaders are to hold a summit in South Africa Monday
aimed at reviving deadlocked negotiations over a unity government in
Zimbabwe. But parties to the talks are not optimistic saying positions
have hardened since a power-sharing agreement was signed four months
leaders continue to express hope that they will reach an agreement and
negotiations continue behind the scenes since the Zimbabwe crisis talks
ended in a deadlock Monday in Harare.
Yet President Robert
Mugabe of ZANU-PF and Prime Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai of the
Movement for Democratic Change say they will not compromise further
when Southern African leaders meet in Pretoria Monday to try to break
A Professor at England's Kent University, Alex
Magaisa, says Zimbabweans are losing hope that the dispute can be
resolved by the Southern African Development Community.
has reached a cul-de sac [dead end] with SADC," said Magaisa. "It's not
going to do anything new. I don't think the MDC can expect anything
positive that can come out of SADC as far as its interests are
concerned. What is there on the table is what is there. I don't think
it's going to change."
A power-sharing agreement signed last
year stalled after the MDC protested that the Mugabe government was
refusing to share key ministries and senior government posts. The MDC
also demanded the release of political prisoners detained in recent
SADC mediators have proposed that Mr. Tsvangirai join
Mr. Mugabe in a unity government and they work out the remaining
The MDC says Mr. Mugabe has already violated
parts of the agreement and fears that he will continue to do so. Mr.
Mugabe has said he would form a government alone if necessary.
Magaisa says the MDC has few viable options other than to seek change from within the government.
needs to be done is for MDC to very carefully measure the cost and
benefits of whatever course of action it may take," said Magaisa. "If
they decide to stay out of government they have to ask themselves what
is it that they can do which they haven't done in the past 10 years in
order to win power."
A professor at the University of
Johannesburg, Adam Habib, says military intervention is not an option
and sanctions hurt primarily poor people rather than the wealthy
He says the only realistic option is a negotiated solution.
dilemma with political negotiations is how do you get leverage over
Mugabe and even Tsvangirai for that matter? How do you as a group of
mediators get the belligerent parties to start dealing in good faith
with each other and to recognize the travesty that is befalling the
Zimbabwean people," said Habib.
He says SADC is divided
internally between members who want to be tough on the parties and
those who favor quiet diplomacy. He says SADC can succeed only if it
unites behind a plan that is supported by all the parties and includes
"It does mean making guarantees for
Zimbabwe's military leaders and even Mugabe himself," said Habib. "And
it does mean agreeing on what are the punitive measures on parties if
they don't agree to abide by such a settlement."
proposals to take the matter to larger bodies like the African Union or
the United Nations will only complicate and prolong the process. As a
result, SADC is best suited to seek a solution.
"SADC has no
option because the consequences are beginning to regionalize," he said.
"What you're beginning to see is simply not only migrations across
borders now, but you're seeing a cholera epidemic. And the cholera
epidemic is beginning to impact a range of surrounding countries."
remarks came as the World Health Organization Friday announced that
cholera, an easily preventable disease, has now affected more than 50,000 people in Zimbabwe and has killed more than 2,700.
Neighboring countries are reporting thousands of cholera cases and several dozen deaths within their borders.
addition, an estimated three million Zimbabweans have fled to
neighboring countries straining social and humanitarian services there.
South Africa says the number of refugees crossing its border each day
has more than doubled in recent months.