THERE are strong indications Zimbabwe's nagging political crisis is likely to be discussed once more at next week's Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Maputo, Mozambique as part of efforts to push through the remaining elements on the country's election road-map.
Although reports have indicated that the centre stage at the Maputo summit to be held from Aug-ust 17 to 18 would be occupied by the crisis in Madagascar, diplomatic sources revealed yesterday that Zimbabwe would also feature on the agenda of the regional body.
While the summit would consider reports from the region's other hot spots such as Madagascar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is bound to also hear the report of the SADC appointed facilitation team of South African President Jacob Zuma, not least because Zimbabwe is an outstanding agenda item.
"The Zimbabwe crisis is a longstanding issue on the SADC agenda. The political parties there are failing to speak with one voice on the draft constitution for instance, so SADC cannot avoid the Zimbabwe issue," said a source, speaking from Pretoria, South Africa.
Zuma's team is expected in the country before the end of this week to meet with the Global Polit-ical Agreement (GPA) negoti-ators as they intensify their prep-arations for the summit.
Currently, the signatories to the SADC-sponsored GPA are not fully agreed on the proposed new supreme law of the land expected to usher in fresh elections.
The summit will kick off with the Council of Ministers Meeting to start on Wednesday.
SADC executive secretary, Tomaz Salamao, had been set to jet into the country to assess the implementation of the GPA and progress in the implementation of the organisation's resolutions on Zimbabwe prior to the Maputo summit but indications are that he will no longer be coming.
Instead, the facilitation team is set to come on Friday for a similar mission.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, SADC head of public relations Leefa Penehupifo Martin said from Botswana her boss is currently in Seychelles and will travel to Maputo from there.
"I doubt that he will still come to Zimbabwe because right now he is in Seychelles and from there, he will go to Mozambique. The facilitation team of South African President Jacob Zuma is supposed to come to Zimabwe this week," said Martin.
But asked whether Zimbabwe was on the agenda of the summit, Martin said she was not sure.
"I did not see the agenda so I cannot confirm whether Zimbabwe is on the agenda of the summit," she said.
The South African facilitation team's spokesperson, Lindiwe Zulu could not be reached for comment before going to press but impeccable sources in government confirmed that Zuma's team was due in the country on Friday.
This was also confirmed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora yesterday.
"Yes, the facilitation team is coming to Zimbabwe this week, I think on Friday," he said when asked if he knew about the South Africans' visit.
Mwonzora said his party expected the summit to carry on discussions on Zimbabwe as that would be a normal procedure since the last summit in Angola had prescribed certain actions to be taken.
"Zimbabwe is an outstanding issue. It must be discussed somehow We are moving towards elections and we have seen increasing chaos within ZANU-PF which is being exported State institutions such as that being witnessed at the start of the census involving the army," said Mwonzora.
"These issues have to be tackled by SADC because if not, it will cause chaos in the country. Our position in the MDC remains the same; that the summit must deal with the issue of Zimbabwe. They must consider the few remaining issues on the GPA. They must push the country into having a referendum to ask the people of Zimbabwe to vote on whether they approve of the draft constitution.
"Our delegation will implore the summit that the draft constitution is complete and was completed by a multi-party team. The parties have negotiated enough, have fought enough and have bickered enough, now the people of Zimbabwe must have their chance. So the summit must intervene and push for progress," said Mwonzora.
Malawian President Joyce Banda, Zambian President Michael Sata and Thomas Thabane, the new Lesotho Prime Minister will make their maiden speeches at the summit.
Sata is seen as a staunch ally of President Mugabe while Banda has shaken the African political landscape by insisting on human rights. She had threatened to arrest Sudanese President Omar al Bashir if he came to Malawi for the African Union Summit resulting in the indaba being moved to Ethiopia.
The SADC organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation met in Pretoria last week for their 14th meeting, to chart a way forward for the region and the upcoming SADC heads of State meeting to be held in Mozambique.
The ministers noted that Zimbabwe has made strides in implementing outstanding issues from a political pact signed four years ago, which the veteran ruler President Mugabe is implementing half-heartedly, according to his coalition partners.
SADC has rejected President Mugabe's push for a snap poll this year before fundamental reforms have been implemented.
The last summit in Luanda pressured Zuma to push parties to the GPA to implement agreed reforms, finalise the constitution-making process and hold a referendum to pave way for elections next year.
SADC said preparations for elections should be done before June 2013 after full implementation of outstanding GPA reforms. The regional bloc has struggled to unlock Zimbabwe's political stalemate as several summits have made resolutions on the issue which have not been fully implemented.