- Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has pledged his party's return to the unity government with President Robert Mugabe after a successful mediation by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in Mozambique last night.
Mr Tsvangirai made a statement calling off his MDC party boycott of the Zimbabwean unity government in Maputo, saying he was willing to give President Mugabe another chance to solve outstanding issues after having won renewed support from SADC.
However, the Prime Minister only agreed to give his counterpart a 30-day deadline to implement the power-sharing agreement that was signed last year, and of which SADC is the guarantor. Outstanding issues include the continued harassment of and police violence against MDC members and a continued environment of fear in Zimbabwe.
SADC had called for an extraordinary summit of its "leadership troika" to discuss security concerns in the Southern Africa region, with a special focus on the power struggles in Madagascar and Zimbabwe. The Presidents of Mozambique and South Africa and the King of Swaziland at the meeting urged both President Mugabe and PM Tsvangirai to go back to the negotiation table.
Mr Tsvangirai three weeks ago announced a boycott of cabinet meetings to be observed by MDC ministers in the unity government, however without pulling his ministers out of the government. The boycott came after a new wave of arrests of MDC politicians spearheaded by security forces, which still are under President Mugabe's firm control.
Since mid-October, the Zimbabwean unity government therefore has been paralysed, political dialogue between the MDC and President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has stopped and observers have warned of a new "militarisation" among followers of the two political blocs. The whole normalisation process seemed at the verge of breaking down.
During the SADC summit, however, the mediators renewed their guarantees to the "global political agreement" in Zimbabwe. They put pressure on President Mugabe to implement outstanding issues in the agreement and "fully comply with the spirit" of the agreement; indirectly meaning the arrests of political opponents must stop.
The parties were given two weeks to start negotiating and 30 days to reach an agreement. Mr Tsvangirai was thus urged to call off his boycott.
During the meeting, and with new guaranteed given, Mr Tsvangirai reportedly made a sudden announcement. The MDC party leader told the summit that his party's "partial disengagement is suspended" - meaning he would order MDC ministers to participate in cabinet meetings with immediate effect. The next cabinet meeting is on Tuesday.
SADC leaders promised to follow up on the guarantees and see to that Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai started negotiating outstanding issues with the given timeframe. Already, South African President Jacob Zuma has promised to visit Zimbabwe within soon to "evaluate" the process.
For now, the political crisis in Zimbabwe is solved. But tough negotiations between the two leaders - both strongly distrusting the other - have yet to start.
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