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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On the economic front, Zimbabwe's situation has greatly improved since the formation of the unity government, under which Mugabe, Mr. Tsvangirai, and Mr. Mutambara share power, Zuma said. But true economic recovery, he added, will only come once Western countries such as the US and Britain lift their sanctions. "We appeal to the international community to remove any remaining hindrances to Zimbabwe's recovery including sanctions," Zuma said.
The South African president said during his meeting with Mugabe, Tsvangirai, and Mutambara that the three agreed to speed up implementation of the coalition agreement and to find solutions to disagreements.
"The important factor is that there is commitment among all parties, which will make the movement forward possible," he said. "The region stands united behind the people of Zimbabwe, and all seek solutions."
Zuma called on the international community to provide development aid. In one sign of toughness, he said that the coalition partners must fulfill the benchmarks set by donors to ensure assistance. The benchmarks include complete implementation of the agreement.
231 million percent inflation
Several issues still threaten to tear the coalition government apart. Mugabe's months-long delay in swearing in provincial governors and deputy ministers from Tsvangirai's and Mutambara's parties are seen as signs of bad faith. Mugabe's insistence on retaining Gideon Gono as his Reserve Bank governor – despite his economic management during a time when the country had a 231 million percent inflation rate – and the targeted arrests of members of parliament from Tsvangirai's party has also caused many opposition leaders to cry foul.
Even so, it is clear that the three main leaders have made concessions, says University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer John Makumbe. "I think they have agreed on what they should call outstanding issues and set deadlines at which those things must be done. Information is still sketchy, but I understand it's what has happened," he says.
Zuma is expected to brief SADC leaders early next month about the implementation of the Zimbabwe agreement.
One analyst who requested anonymity said Mugabe might say in the meetings that he would comply with the agreement, "but as soon as Zuma leaves, he would behave differently as usual."
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