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SADC Meets Thursday After Postponing Summit to Give Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Talks More Time


The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will hold its meeting today (Thursday) after postponing it to allow the Zimbabwe peace negotiations time to reach a possible agreement. The Politics and Security Committee of SADC was supposed to meet Wednesday in the Swazi capital Mbabane, but the summit was postponed, to allow the mediator of the talks to focus more on finding a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis. The move to postpone the summit came after Zimbabwe political rivals meeting in the capital, Harare hinted they could sign a power-sharing deal yesterday (Wednesday).

George Mkwananzi is the deputy chairperson of the National Constitution Assembly. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from South Africa's capital, Pretoria that Zimbabweans are waiting with baited breath for a final peace deal.

"It really means a lot. It means that the SADC group of countries takes the issue of Zimbabwe as a very important one, which must not be allowed to destabilize the whole region. So, they are even choosing to postpone their own organ's meeting so that Thabo Mbeki (South Africa's President and mediator of the Zimbabwe talks) could get more time to get the Zimbabwean belligerents to reach a settlement," Mkwananzi pointed out.

He said members of the Southern African Development community are aware of the seriousness of the Zimbabwe crisis.

"It really means that they realize the enormity of having a bad apple amongst themselves. And they would really want to ensure that this is solved before it ruins the rest of the region," he said.

Mkwananzi said Zimbabweans are expressing strong optimism about a possible final agreement between the ruling ZANU-PF party and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"I want to believe that every Zimbabwean and not just the Zimbabwean people, but everybody in the Southern African region and elsewhere are waiting with baited breath to hear the good news that a deal has been clinched in Harare. So, that they can get on with life so that they can cease to be viewed as a miserable lot. And if a deal doesn't come out of particular round of negotiations, I'm sure it would be a devastating piece of news to the majority of Zimbabweans," Mkwananzi noted.

He said Zimbabweans are hopeful that both the opposition and the ruling party would realize what the bone of contention is so it would be surmounted to enable a final deal to be signed.

"In fact the optimism is not without a good cause because after the collapse of the initial attempt to come out with a solution. We would like to believe that the three parties have been on the side of belligerent, but have now seen what caused them not to reach a settlement before. And the arrogance that some of them might have been bearing, they would be walking to these talks knowing fully well that they cannot get away with the same level of arrogance a peaceful conclusion of this agreement," he said.

Mkwananzi said that the resentment reportedly existing between the ruling party and the opposition could make working together difficult.

"In fact it is actually a difficult situation to imagine ZANU-PF and MDC working together. But what is important is that in any situation of war that people start being far apart, but as they start working together the differences are getting minimized everyday, as they begin to negotiate their relations. And what is most important and paramount for both parties is that they have been given this mandate by the people of Zimbabwe who are tired of their condition, which caused the dispute between the two major parties. So, they should also push that agenda of always knowing that it is the people of Zimbabwe who are the greatest beneficiaries and not their individuals selves," Mkwananzi pointed out.

Meanwhile, main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai said Wednesday that South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki informeed him that "very little work" was needed for a power-sharing deal with President Robert Mugabe.