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Zimbabwean Prime Minister  On Tour Of Southern Africa


Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is meeting with leaders of the Southern African Development Conference (SADC), including South African President Jacob Zuma.

MP Gordon Moyo, the leader of Mr. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said he expects the regional leaders to put pressure on ZANU-PF to help implement the political agreement that created the unity government.

Tsvangirai has been to Mozambique and should be in South Africa right now, on his way to Botswana and Angola, said John Makumbe, a professor of political science at Zimbabwe University, who adds that the prime minister may also go to Angola and possibly DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).

The purpose of this tour, said Makumbe, is to brief the regional leaders about the latest political developments in Zimbabwe.

Last week Tsvangirai said he was suspending cooperation with President Robert Mugabe's party, but he said the MDC is not officially withdrawing from the power-sharing government.

In the past SADC leaders have tended to side with [President] Mugabe, said Makumbe. “SADC has…demonstrated very clearly that it operates in favor of Mr. Mugabe, but there have been significant changes in the region.”

Makumbe cited the election of Jacob Zuma as president of South Africa, and Ian Seretse Khama in Botswana. “These two, together with Jakaya Kikwete in Tanzania, are very clear about the problems in Zimbabwe and would like to see change. They would like to see Mr. Mugabe allow the nation to move forward.”

The leaders in the region have a stake in the implementation of the political agreement in Zimbabwe, he added, as they participated in its drafting. “If we fail it is tarnishing to our own image as a region. If Mr. Mugabe literally ‘throws the spanner in the works’ and tries to make the agreement collapse by refusing to implement the provisions in the agreement he actually signed, that will not reflect well on the regional leaders who brokered the agreement.”

But Makumbe described MDC’s disengagement from government as confusing. “It is a confusing situation because there are government ministries where the minister is from ZANU-PF and the deputy from MDC and vice versa.” He wondered “what will be happening in those ministries, how will they operate; how will they function.”

Such a situation could paralyze the government, he said. “If each party pulls in a different direction – not a national direction but a party one –t here will be a serious gridlock and therefore no change will take place.”

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