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Southern Africa Leaders Meet to Discuss Zimbabwe


Several southern Africa leaders are meeting in Maputo to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe's inclusive government following the withdrawal from the cabinet by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and ministers from his party. The leaders of Zimbabwe's three political parties are also attending the meeting.

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The one day meeting in Maputo is a summit of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) organization on Security, Defense and Politics, commonly known as the troika - at present comprised of Mozambique, Zambia and Swaziland. Also attending are South African president Jacob Zuma, Democratic Republic of Congo president Joseph Kabila, and former South African president Thabo Mbeki who facilitated the agreement which brought about the inclusive government.

Ahead of the meeting's start Tomaz Salomao, Executive secretary of SADC, told VOA in Portuguese that SADC expects to substantially solve the problems consistently faced in Zimbabwe.

Salamao said the meeting is important and will help solve the crisis in Zimbabwe. He said the three political parties have restated their commitment to the political agreement in Zimbabwe. Salamao added there is a need to determine what can end the current stalemate in the inclusive government, and that this must be done for the good of all Zimbabweans.

Mr. Tsvangirai withdrew from the cabinet three weeks ago citing unresolved issues in the accord signed more than a year ago by the leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, ZANU-PF, and the smaller faction of the MDC. He objected to what his party says are selective prosecutions, particularly against MDC legislators.

The prime minister also said that President Robert Mugabe had unilaterally appointed top civil servants such as provincial governors, the governor of the central bank and the attorney-general, apparently in defiance of an earlier SADC statement which said these positions should be jointly decided after the formation of the inclusive government.

In addition to Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai, the leader of the small faction of the MDC, Arthur Mutamabara, is in Maputo to attend the meeting.

ZANU-PF negotiator Patrick Chinamasa said last week that his party had fulfilled all conditions of the agreement, known as the Global Political Agreement.

The only daily newspaper in Harare, the pro-ZANU-PF Herald says that the MDC has not campaigned for the end of European Union and United States trade and travel restrictions against top ZANU-PF leaders and their businesses. It also says the MDC has done nothing to stop broadcasts from what it calls pirate radio stations.

The only radio and television stations in Zimbabwe are controlled by ZANU-PF.

In an apparent indication of the importance Zimbabweans attach to the summit, prices on Zimbabwe's stock exchange rose sharply Thursday. Stockbrokers in Harare said this was caused by optimism among Zimbabwe's main economic players that the SADC meeting would put the power-sharing government back on track. Prices had dropped sharply last month when Mr. Tsvangirai withdrew participation in cabinet meetings.