- The South African government has express a disappointment on the worsening Zimbabwean crisis, saying leaders of both parties are putting political interests at the expenses of ordinary citizens.
A cabinet meeting held in Cape Town yesterday called for urgent steps to finalise the amendment of the constitution and allocation of remaining cabinet posts for the formation of a unity government.
"No amount of political disagreement can ever justify the suffering that ordinary Zimbabweans are being subjected to at the moment," it said, emphasising that like the Southern African Development Community (SADC), South Africa would like to see a political settlement for Zimbabwe in order for the region to focus on rebuilding the country's economy.
President Robert Mugabe signed a power-sharing agreement with the Movement for Democratic Change on 15 September to unravel a long dragging political impasse in the economically battered Southern African state, but allocation of key ministerial posts have stalled the deal.
South Africa's cabinet has also decided to address the cholera outbreak in as well as scaling malaria control along its border with Zimbabwe. "South Africa is already in discussions with multilateral agencies such as SADC and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in this regard," it stated. Both diseases threaten to spread into South Africa if not controlled in Zimbabwe.
South Africa has decided to retain R300 million for agricultural assistance to Zimbabwe, after the country failed to form a representative government.
"However, this money will be only disbursed once a representative government was in place and in time for the next planting season in April 2009. The Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs will prepare a proposal on South Africa's contribution to address the immediate humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe," the cabinet said.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has announced a new round of power sharing talks next week in South Africa over the constitution amendment bill. Implementing the agreed constitutional amendment – which would necessitate the MDC-dominated parliament to convene – has been the MDC's primary demand to start resolving the government crisis.
The power-sharing deadlock follows disputed presidential elections earlier this year, where the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round in March, but not by enough to secure outright victory, but pulled out of a run-off in June, citing a campaign of violence against his supporters.
Zimbabweans grappling with the world's highest inflation of 231 million percent, severe shortages of food and basic commodities had hoped a power-sharing government would be quickly established to allow the country to focus on tackling an economic crisis and starting to receive much needed foreign aid.
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