Thabo Mbeki (photo, from dailymail.co.uk), South African president, who has been mediating for more than a week between his Zimbabwean counterpart and Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition’s leader, is going to Harare, in order to hold talks with both sides.
A power-sharing deal may be close, suggest reports, despite a news blackout imposed on the discussions.
Although he did not elaborate, George Charamba, Zimbabwean government spokesman, said a “milestone” had been reached.
He told state media that Mr Mbeki was “going to meet the principals, basically to update them on the progress so far and to consult on how to take the dialogue forward”.
“This is an important milestone that has been registered in the interparty dialogue”, he added.
In June, Mr Tsvangirai pulled out of the presidential race alleging violence against his backers, and then Mr Mugabe won a run-off.
The aim of the talks is to create some form of coalition, said South African mediators, even though there is disagreement over who would lead a unity government and concerning Mr Mugabe’s exact role.
Mr Mbeki is expected to return to South Africa on Sunday afternoon.
The power-sharing deal would let Mr Mugabe retain the presidency, while Mr Tsvangirai would become prime minister with exective powers, report South Africa’s media.
Yet, apart from statements from all sides saying that the talks have been progressing well, there has been no official comment on these reports.
Ahead of a mid-August summit of the Southern African Development Community, or Sadc, Mr Mbeki is under pressure to produce a solid outcome.
Fleeing Zimbabwe’s worsening political and economic situation, hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans have left their country, many crossing over the borders into neighbouring states of South Africa, Zambia and Botswana.
Robert Mugabe should be barred from the Sadc summit, suggested on Friday Phandu Skelemani, Botswana’s foreign minister.
“The legal process of producing a government in Zimbabwe has failed […] those who claim to represent a government in Zimbabwe […] should be excluded from attending Sadc and African Union meetings as their participation in these meetings would be equal to giving them unqualified legitimacy”, Mr Skelemani said.