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S.Africa's Zuma to visit Zimbabwe in bid to ease tensions

Monday March 15, 2010    12:02 PM

JOHANNESBURG – South African President Jacob Zuma is set to visit Zimbabwe this week in a new bid to ease political tensions between President Robert Mugabe and Premier Morgan Tsvangirai, his office said Monday.

Zuma will make a three-day trip to Zimbabwe on Tuesday to "facilitate the removal of obstacles which hinder the full implementation" of the power-sharing agreement, his office said in a statement.

The unity government formed in February last year has been fraught with power struggles, which saw Tsvangirai boycott cabinet for three weeks in October.

The stand-off was later resolved by the Southern African Development Community regional leaders at a special summit in Mozambique, tasking Zuma with helping the parties resolve their differences.

Among the issues contested by the rival parties are the appointment of the central bank governor and the attorney general, as well as the naming of provincial governors and the removal of a Western travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and his inner circle.

"Zuma is visiting the country to conduct an assessment of progress with regards to the implementation and to see how SADC can assist to fast-track the process," said the statement.

South African negotiators named by Zuma have been interacting with the parties in Zimbabwe since December.