In their first public response to Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s campaign to lobby them about violent attacks on his supporters by those of President Robert Mugabe, Southern African leaders have called for an immediate end to “violence, intimidation, hate speech [and] harassment”.

In a communique issued at the end of a summit in Livingstone, Zambia, the security organ of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) also expressed its “impatience” at delays of the implementation of the accord which created Zimbabwe’s unity government, and noted its “grave concern [at] the polarization of the political environment as characterized by, inter alia, resurgence of violence, arrests and intimidation”.

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, who is facilitating SADC mediation of the Zimbabwe crisis, reported on its efforts to other regional leaders, including President Rupiah Banda of Zambia, who chairs the security organ, President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique.

Zimbabwe was represented by Tsvangirai, President Robert Mugabe and the deputy prime minister, Arthur Mutambara.

In the weeks leading up to the summit, Tsvangirai toured southern African capitals, complaining at the violence of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and calling for action.

The SADC leaders told Zimbabwe’s unity government that it should implement all the provisions of the Global Political Agreement which set it up, and “create a conducive environment for peace, security, and free political activity”. They also decided to appoint a team of officials to supplement Zuma’s facilitation team and to intensify the monitoring of the implementation of the agreement.