Zimbabwe: Zuma’s closed door negotiations to lead to early elections?

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South African President Jacob Zuma left Harare Thursday night after claiming that he made tremendous progress in his first trip to Zimbabwe as chief mediator between warring political parties.

Zuma, who spent two hectic working days holed up in a Harare hotel engaged in marathon meetings, told journalists after long hours of behind-the-scenes negotiations that the parties had agreed on “a package of measures” to be implemented soon.

“The parties have agreed to a package of measures to be implemented concurrently as per the decision of the Sadc Troika in Maputo,” Zuma said.
“I believe the implementation of this package will take the process forward substantially.”

It was not clear why Zuma decided not to publicly declare the clear details of the package, with analysts speculating that he wishes to fast track events leading to national elections.

Zuma’s disclosure was only to the effect that the three principals to the GPA have instructed their negotiating teams to attend to all outstanding matters during their deliberations from the 25th to the 29th of March and are to report back to the facilitator by the 31st of March.

Zuma said President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara had agreed to set their negotiators to pull out all the stops to resolve the outstanding issues.

“The leaders have instructed their negotiating teams to attend to all outstanding matters during their deliberations on 25, 26 and 29 March and to report back to the facilitator by 31st of March,” Zuma said. “I will present a comprehensive progress report to the chairperson of the Sadc troika, President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique.”

Zuma met directly with the men at the centre of the storm threatening Zimbabwe’s fragile unity government- Central Bank chief Gideon Gono and prosecutions head Johannes Tomana in Harare. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) wants both men ousted.

On sanctions, sources in government close to Zanu PF say the proposed package included an undertaking to intensify efforts to have sanctions removed.

They said the ministerial committee on sanctions set up in June last year will visit Brussels on April 21 to lobby the EU for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has formed a ministerial team to re-engage the EU on sanctions.
The committee is chaired by Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and comprises of Chinamasa, Welshman Ncube, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Mangoma and Finance minister Tendai Biti.

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