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Zimbabwe talks delayed for a week

  • Story Highlights
  • Officials have decided that talks will resume in Harare next week
  • Southern African leaders discuss Zimbabwe crisis without opposition leader
  • Morgan Tsvangirai unable to get travel visa to attend meeting in Swaziland
  • President Mugabe, Tsvangirai signed power-sharing deal on September 15
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HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Efforts to resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis remained stalled Monday, after the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Party said it would not attend talks in Swaziland, alleging its leader's necessary travel documents had been too long delayed.

Officials have decided the talks will resume in Harare in a week, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

"We welcome the development," he said. "It was clear that for fairness to prevail, it had to be postponed or a unilateral decision was (going) to be made."

He added, "We remain committed to the talks as long as the principle of equality is upheld."

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had been expected in Swaziland to meet with President Robert Mugabe and some South African Development Community leaders to break a stalemate between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the MDC.

But on Monday, the MDC alleged that Tsvangirai -- who has been without a passport for months and requires emergency travel documents to leave the country -- had received those documents too late on Sunday to secure a travel visa to travel through South Africa to Swaziland.

"Mr. Tsvangirai cannot travel to Swaziland because he does not have a travel document. Mr. Tsvangirai cannot travel to Swaziland because he does not have a South African visa. And, we too, the negotiators, cannot travel to Swaziland without our principal," MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said at a news conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Bright Matonga, a spokesman for President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, initially said it was not surprising that Tsvangirai was not attending the Monday talks.

"It shows the world who is not interested in having the stalemate addressed," he said. "He had a document to (allow) him (to) travel legally and safely to Swaziland but he chose to not to go."

MDC said Tsvangirai has applied for a passport but Zimbabwean authorities refuse to issue him one.

"We apologize to President Mswati (of Swaziland) who is waiting for us, but the real apology should be coming from Robert Mugabe who is imprisoning our president and who is imprisoning the people of Zimbabwe, who wanted a solution yesterday," he said.

He said Tsvangirai's absence does not indicate that the party is not committed to the talks.

South African President Thabo Mbeki failed last week to break an impasse between the ZANU-PF and the MDC over which party would control key government ministries, prompting calls for Monday's talks.

Under the agreement, signed after months of protracted debate, Mugabe retained his office. Tsvangirai was to become prime minister and Arthur Mutambara, who leads a splinter MDC faction, was to become deputy prime minister. The power-sharing agreement will not go into effect until Zimbabwe's parliament amend the constitution to allow it.

Biti said that Zimbabwe authorities' denial of Tsvangirai's passport "is a symptom of the real problem in Zimbabwe."

"And the real problem in Zimbabwe is that despite the execution of the global political agreement on the 15th of September, there is no paradigm, no reality check on the part of ZANU-PF," Biti said. "There is no readiness on the part of ZANU-PF to engage in a cooperative government with Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC."

The power-sharing agreement was to end months of turmoil and violence that followed the country's March presidential elections. Tsvangirai garnered the most votes in March but did not win enough to avoid a runoff with Mugabe, who has ruled the country since its independence from Britain in 1980.

The MDC leader withdrew days before the June 27 runoff with Mugabe, alleging that Mugabe's supporters had waged a campaign of violence and intimidation against opposition supporters. He said he could not participate in the election, which he condemned as a "sham."

CNN's Nkepile Mabuse in Johannesburg, South Africa contributed to this report.

All About ZimbabweRobert MugabeAfrican PoliticsMorgan Tsvangirai

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