South Africa sees progress in slow Zimbabwe talks

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HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's political rivals have agreed some outstanding issues of a power-sharing deal, but the pace of negotiations is slow, a South African official mediating in the talks said on Tuesday.

President Robert Mugabe and long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, formed a unity government last year in February after disputed elections, but the coalition has been hobbled by disputes over power-sharing.

Lindiwe Zulu, international relations advisor to South African President Jacob Zuma, said while South Africa was not happy with the pace of talks, there was progress on some issues.

"I don't think that we should be talking of escalating conflict at this point in time. We are not saying that we are happy with the speed at which they are working but we think there are a number of things they've agreed upon," Zulu told South African Talk Radio 702.

South Africa is mediating in the Zimbabwe negotiations and Zimbabwean media reports say Africa's biggest economy wants all outstanding issues resolved before it hosts the soccer World Cup in June.

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in October "disengaged" from cabinet meetings with Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, accusing it of being an "unreliable partner" but rejoined after mediation by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are haggling over the appointment of provincial governors and the veteran leader's refusal to swear in Tsvangirai ally Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture minister.

The 85-year-old president has also refused to sack allies he appointed as central bank governor and attorney general without consulting Tsvangirai.

Mugabe says the MDC should call off Western sanctions against his party and ask its backers in the West to shut down what he calls pirate radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe from the United States and Britain.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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