Zuma To Step In If Zimbabwe Parties Declare Deadlock

Talks in Zimbabwe stalled in Harare on Tuesday after Zanu PF negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche refused to co-operate with their colleagues under instructions from their superiors amid concerns that a deadlock might slide the country back into chaos.

The talks are due to resume on Monday.

Speaking to Radio VOP, Zuma’s international relations advisor and a member of the SA facilitation team, Lindiwe Zulu said since all the parties were still talking and there was need to give them more time to narrow their differences.

“Right now they are talking – it’s quite a process but the fact that they are talking means there is some progress. The rate of progress might not be what people are expecting but in such talks people should expect delays. As the facilitation team, we will present to President Zuma what we observed. For now the president (Zuma) has no reason to travel to Zimbabwe unless the three parties declare a deadlock and inform us. And even after the deadlock we have to look for the reasons behind the stalemate before the president considers traveling to Harare.

“President Zuma has a competent team of facilitators who will advise him accordingly. All we can say now is that there is nothing new on the agenda of the talks and we believe there will be progress,” said Zulu.

Her comments came as it emerged that Zuma is still pushing ahead with his plans to ensure that Zimbabwe holds elections next year. Zuma is said to have won support from the region about plans to hold elections as the only solution to the current crisis.

Radio VOP has it on good authority that Zuma and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos two weeks ago where they reportedly agreed that the problems in Zimbabwe need to be solved through an election as it appears President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party are not interested in genuine engagement.

Zuma has already publicly said that elections should be held in Zimbabwe next year so that stability could return to the once prosperous nation – now destroyed by years of misrule, corruption and a breakdown in the rule of law.

Radio VOP also understands authoritatively that Tsvangirai has already given up on the GPA talks and is now looking forward to elections next year as long as they are run by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and monitored by the international community including the African Union and the United Nations.

“The Prime Minister has lost hope in the negotiation process because he realizes that Zanu PF is not serious about taking the country forward. He feels that Mugabe has taken them for a ride for far too long and now is the time to declare elections,” said a top official in MDC. “Tsvangirai wants the constitutional process to be complete by September including the referendum and expects elections to be held by April 2010. He has realised that speaking to Mugabe is a waste of time as the old man has proved to be very unreliable.”