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Saturday, 12 January, 2002, 17:04 GMT
Zimbabwe looms over SADC meeting
SADC ministers gather for a previous meeting
The SADC may take a softer line on Zimbabwe
By the BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in Malawi

A ministerial meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has opened in Blantyre, Malawi, with a call to resolve political problems in the region including the land issue in Zimbabwe.

Although Zimbabwe is not on the official agenda for this ministerial meeting, it is clearly on the delegates' minds.

Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe will address the meeting on Monday
Malawian vice president Justin Malewezi raised the land issue in his opening address, saying it was one of the sources of political instability which were depressing trade and discouraging investment in the region.

Other problems he cited were the civil wars in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But while Zimbabwe's trading partners in Europe and North America have been reducing aid and threatening President Robert Mugabe with sanctions, Mr Malewezi talked of the need for support and called for more dialogue

He seemed to rule out the possibility of sanctions.

Economic effects

President Mugabe is due to arrive in Blantyre on Saturday ahead of the summit for heads of state on Monday.

Members of the Zimbabwean delegation say he wants to use the opportunity to brief his colleagues in the region.

They will certainly want to hear what he has to say.

Zimbabwe is one of the major economies in southern Africa, and its neighbours are already feeling the effects of present political and economic crisis.

See also:

18 Dec 01 | Africa
Neighbours back Mugabe
11 Jan 02 | Media reports
Zimbabwe press debates new bills
12 Aug 01 | Africa
Packed agenda for SADC leaders
24 Nov 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Malawi
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