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HARARE - A second round of talks between Zimbabwean rivals President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was due to get under way yesterday in Harare amid reports of a breakthrough.
President Jacob Zuma, who is mediating the talks on behalf of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community, has been in Zimbabwe since Tuesday to try to resolve a long-running dispute in the country's shaky power-sharing government over the implementation of reforms.
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara all expressed satisfaction at the progress made on key sticking points when they emerged from around two hours of talks with Zuma on Wednesday, but gave no details.
Reports of a breakthrough came after Zuma met later with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, attorney-general Johannes Tomana and Tsvangirai's Deputy Agriculture Minister Designate Roy Bennett.
The three men are at the centre of some of the worst wrangling between Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Tsvangirai's MDC.
Bennett was arrested in February 2009 and charged over a purported plot to topple Mugabe. He is currently being tried by the high court for possessing weapons for the purposes of terrorism, banditry and insurgency.
The MDC sees the charges as a plot to keep the outspoken white farmer out of government and has demanded for the past year that Mugabe swear him into his post.
The MDC also wants Mugabe to rescind his unilateral appointment of Gono and Tomana to their positions. Both are staunch Mugabe allies.
Several sources close to the negotiations said a compromise had been reached, which would see Tomana step down, Gono remain and Bennett sworn into his position pending the outcome of his trial.
If confirmed, it would represent a coup for Zuma.
Even if the parties reached a compromise on Bennett, Tomana and Gono, many issues remain, including the drafting of a new constitution, the reform of repressive media laws and the gazetting last month of new black empowerment laws. - Sapa-dpa