Zuma to visit Zimbabwe for poll talks amid widening rift

Wednesday March 7 2012


HARARE, Wednesday

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma is expected in Zimbabwe in the next few days to discuss preparations for fresh elections amid a widening rift between Pretoria and Harare.

Hardliners in President Robert Mugabe’s government have accused South Africa of meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs after the influential neighbour insisted on reforms before the polls early this week.

A South African government official said President Zuma, who was appointed by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to mediate in Zimbabwe, is pressing ahead with an ‘election roadmap’ that will see the Harare administration adopt a cocktail of reforms.

President Zuma’s international adviser, Lindiwe Zulu, told the Voice of America that there were no firm dates for the visit but confirmed that it was in the next few days.

The South African leader recently visited Botswana, Angola and Namibia, where he reportedly appealed for regional support to tackle the Zimbabwe issue.

Angolan Foreign minister Georges Chikoti was quoted saying President Zuma had consulted President Jose Eduardo dos Santos on Madagascar, Zimbabwe, the DR Congo and Malawi during the visit to Luanda last Friday.

President Dos Santos chairs Sadc, which has been battling to find a peaceful solution to the Zimbabwe crisis since 2007.