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Talks to resolve issues that threaten the unity of Zimbabwe's shaky inclusive government got under way on Monday.
The talks started after the deadline set by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for the parties that make up the unity government to fully implement the so-called Global Political Agreement, or GPA, the deal that brought about the national unity government.
On November 5 a SADC summit in Maputo gave the feuding parties 15 days to implement the outstanding issues. If this did not happen, SADC would send South Africa's President Jacob Zuma to break the logjam. Analyst Tony Hawkins of the University of Zimbabwe noted that there is nothing much SADC can do besides persuade the parties to agree.
"SADC never said what would happen if they didn't agree it seems to me unlikely that SDAC can do very much," he said.
The summit was a result of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change partial withdrawal from the government last month. He blamed President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party for non-fulfillment of the GPA. But for one reason or another, the parties failed to talk during the SADC stipulated period. This led to recriminations about who was holding up the talks.
University of Zimbabwe's Hawkins dismissed claims that the MDC's disengagement and delay in the talks would be detrimental to Zimbabwe's economic recovery and keep potential investors away.
"My feeling has always been that there was exaggerated expectations on behalf of the people about what they expected would be achieved economically particularly during a time of recession," he said. "The failure of the talks will slow things down but I don't really see any lasting impact. If people are serious about wanting to invest here they are gonna come and do it."
Hawkins described the unity government as feuding parties rather than a government. He added that until there are elections in Zimbabwe there won't be any consistency in policy and the parties will keep on disagreeing.