South African president Jacob Zuma opened a new round of mediation in harare Wednesday seeking to get the divided unity government parties on the same page regarding at least some of the outstanding and new issues troubling power-sharing.
Mr Zuma opened his initiative with a first round of one-on-one talks with President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
Later, in what some observers called a diplomatic coup for Mr. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change formation, Mr. Zuma met with senator Roy Bennett, who has been designated deputy agriculture minister but faces treason charges in an ongoing High court trial.
Insiders say Mr Mugabe and his Zanu-PF asked for party negotiators to have until the end of march to wrap up talks and prepare a comprehensive report for Mr. Zuma and regional leaders.
But sources say Mr. Tsvangirai argued that this won’t help as negotiators have deadlocked.
Mr. Zuma was expected to meet all three principals again laterWednesday or Thursday should he find there is common ground to develop.
Negotiators must still come to grips with the most divisive issues on the agenda including the leadership of the Reserve Bank and the office of the Attorney General, and the swearing-in of promised MDC provincial governors.
Political analyst Charles Mangongera says president Zuma must ensure quick implementation and bring a close to the endless talks in order for his visit to be considered a success.