Zuma says Zimbabwe making progress
The South African president said Zimbabwe's young national unity government is working, despite recent bickering over powersharing.
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In Zimbabwe on his first visit as president, Mr. Zuma said that despite complaints from all three principal signatories to a coalition agreement – the long-ruling President Robert Mugabe and his two chief rivals, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara – the deal has given the country a welcome respite from months of political violence and economic collapse.
"There have been positive developments in Zimbabwe since the January 2009 SADC Extraordinary Summit," said Zuma, referring to the Southern African Development Community's final push to ensure that Mr. Mugabe and the opposition implemented the peace deal signed in September 2008. "The inclusive government is functioning and the joint monitoring and implementation committee is also progressing well.
"We are also encouraged by the consensus reached by the inclusive government parties on the need for national healing and reconciliation," he added.
Zimbabwe's decline as breadbasket
Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have ruled Zimbabwe since the country's liberation from white-minority rule in 1980. During this nearly 30-year tenure, Zimbabwe has gone from being a regional breadbasket to a net-recipient of food aid, with one of the highest inflation rates in human history.
Mugabe's harsh treatment of political opponents has also caused many Western countries to cut off development aid and to apply targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle.
Despite the coalition agreement, tensions among the ruling partners have risen recently. Work has largely stopped as the parties bicker over issues of powersharing and control of ministries.
Yet while Zuma's public speech affirmed that Zimbabwe's coalition partners would now go back to working together, it's impossible to know what was said behind closed doors, and whether Zuma's personal style of diplomacy is any different from that of his more accommodating predecessor, President Thabo Mbeki.