Zimbabwe: Mugabe, Tsvangirai to meet over violence

by Own Correspondent

HARARE -- The leaders of Zimbabwe's two main political parties are scheduled to meet today to discuss resurgent intra-party violence and other issues affecting the country's fragile coalition government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office said yesterday.

It said Tsvangirai would meet with President Robert Mugabe to discuss violations of their power-sharing pact or global political agreement (GPA) amid reports of a flare-up of violence ahead of possible polls later this year.

"The two leaders of the major political parties in Zimbabwe agreed to meet on Friday to deal with the pressing matters afflicting the transitional government," the office said in the latest issue of the Prime Minister's Newsletter, a weekly publication that updates the public on government business.

The meeting is expected to tackle the contentious issues of political violence, an ongoing constitution-making process as well as a proposed referendum and polls.

Earlier this month Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of complicit in the campaign of violence and intimidation being waged by soldiers and other militias linked to his ZANU PF party.

He held Mugabe responsible for the army and police force's relentless efforts to block democratic reform, saying the veteran leader was aware of the security forces' resistance to the unity government and its change programme.

Tsvangirai said Mugabe - who is the supreme commander of the armed forces and appoints the country's police, secret and prison service chiefs - was in the know about the army's violent manoeuvres and should be able to call off the violence campaign that has seen more than 1 000 families displaced from their homes since January.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai have also clashed over the timing of general elections that the veteran Zimbabwean leader wants to be held this year while the Prime Minister insists on the development of a roadmap first to avoid the violence that marred the previous plebiscite held in 2008.

Friday's meeting takes place at a time when a three-member South African team of mediators is in Zimbabwe to try and resolve the power-sharing dispute between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

The South African facilitators are expected to meet Mugabe and Tsvangirai over the proposed roadmap to a free and fair election, which they are developing on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

South African President Jacob Zuma is the official SADC mediator in the dispute between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.