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Zimbabwe Parties Lobby African Leaders Ahead of Regional, African Summits

Officials of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Morgan Tsvangirai are intensely lobbying member nations of the Southern African Development Community and the African Union ahead of summits of the two bodies running concurrently next week that will focus on the Zimbabwe crisis.

While attention will focus primarily on the SADC session set for Monday, sources say the AU will take up the deep crisis in Zimbabwe at its summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

SADC officials have not yet said whether the summit will be held in Gaborone, Botswana, home of the regional organization, or in South Africa, whose president, Kgalema Motlanthe, currently holds the SADC chair and unsuccessfully tried to broker a deal early this week.

Sources said ZANU-PF and the Tsvangirai MDC wing are engaged in a blame game over the failure of what were perceived as make-or-break power-sharing talks this week.

ZANU-PF accuses Tsvangirai of being under Western orders not to join the proposed unity government that President Mugabe has proposed to form. But the MDC dismissed this charge, saying the problem is intransigence on the part of Mr. Mugabe.

National Constitutional Assembly Deputy Chairman George Mkhwanazi told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that SADC is to blame for the prolonged Zimbabwean impasse because of its softly-softly approach to Mr. Mugabe.

Elsewhere, South African civic activists led by Graça Machel, wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela and a member of the so-called Elders group of eminent persons, on Wednesday presided over the launch of a "Save Zimbabwe Campaign" including a hunger strike to galvanize public opinion, a Studio 7 correspondent Benedict Nhlapho reported.

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