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S. Africa's Zuma Promises to Engage Zimbabwe's Mugabe on Unity Issues


South African President Jacob Zuma promised Monday to take up with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe the unresolved issues that continue to trouble Harare's unity government and to broach them with fellow leaders of the Southern African Development Community.

Mr. Zuma, now SADC chairman, made the commitment after meeting for an hour with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at the headquarters of his ruling African National Congress,

Mr. Tsvangirai traveled to South Africa late last week to brief Mr. Zuma on the progress - or in some areas the lack of it - by his unity government since its creation in February.

Though the government has stabilized the economy and restored essential services as well as bolstering the morale of a longsuffering population, its course over the past five and a half months has been marked by continual squabbling over the exercise of power.

Mr. Tsvangirai and his dominant formation of the Movement for Democratic Change have long argued for the replacement of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, reappointed (or appointed for the first time in Tomana's case) by Mr. Mugabe in 2008 without consultation despite the signing of a power-sharing pact.

But in recent months their focus has shifted to the rising number of MDC parliamentarians arrested, prosecuted, and in several cases convicted and sentenced to prison terms longer than six months, which if upheld will result in the loss of their House or Senate seats.

The MDC says Tomana and loyalists of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF in the judiciary are pursuing a campaign of trumped up charges aiming to whittle down the MDC House majority.

Correspondent Benedict Nhlapho reported from Johannesburg that Mr. Zuma described the outstanding issues as "very few, yet weighty," saying he was committed to engaging all the concerned parties to make sure they were resolved as soon as possible.

Sources informed on the Tsvangirai-Zuma talks said the prosecution of MDC lawmakers and the question of the leadership of the Reserve Bank and Office of the Attorney General figured prominently in the talks between the two leaders.

Elsewhere, U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was due in South Africa later this week when she is expected to press Mr. Zuma to use his influence to resolve such troubling issues through strict adherence to the September 2008 Global Political Agreement.

Pretoria-based political analyst George Mkhwanazi told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Mr. Zuma has the clout to break the stalemate between ZANU-PF and the MDC.

More news from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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