“SADC has to use leverage on Mugabe” at next summit

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Southern African leaders will once again gather in South Africa Sunday to push for an an elusive breakthrough in to the Zimbabwe crisis. Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition MDC are deadlocked over cabinet positions in a power-sharing government the two rivals agreed to form, with rival MDC leader Arthur Mutambara, on September 15.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Tsvangirai would attend the summit and the opposition party expected the SADC, the 15-nation regional grouping, to increase pressure on Mugabe. “Tsvangirai will be going to the meeting, and we hope that the summit will help to break the impasse. The SADC has to use its leverage, especially on Mugabe to see sense and to see that people are suffering,” Chamisa said.

Currently, Tsvangirai is in Bostwana after traveling on Monday on the emergency travel document which he refused to use to attend the Sadc Troika meeting on Zimbabwe in Swaziland last month. Tsvangirai drove to Botswana on Monday with his family through the Plumtree Border Post after spending the weekend in Bulawayo.

Added Chamisa, “We are hoping the Sunday meeting is the final negotiation to start a new chapter. The people are suffering and we should start acting to make sure we alleviate the problems facing the people,” he said. “We expect finality and closure to this whole issue. The suspense and anxiety has been excruciatingly painful for Zimbabweans,” Chamisa added.

There is some cautious hope that a full SADC summit might get the two sides
to agree to put an end to months of conflict and achieve a just and lasting
peace. While both sides have publicly pronounced they were committed to
honouring the deal, success is still far from guaranteed, given the
fundamental historical and political differences between the two warring

While some SADC leaders have taken a tough line against Mugabe, the group has failed in several meetings to persuade Zimbabwe’s parties to bury their differences and get on with the task of easing the economic crisis.

Setting up a unity government is seen as critical to halting Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown. Inflation in July was officially 231mn%, but the Washington-based Cato Institute foundation estimates it is now 2.79 quintillion (US) per cent.

Ordinary Zimbabweans are struggling to survive amid chronic shortages of meat, milk and other basic commodities.

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