Members of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), a 14-nation regional bloc, will meet in Tanzania near the end of this month to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe, Tanzania's foreign minister said on Friday.

 

Home rest

 

William Bango, a MDC spokesman, said on Friday that Tsvangirai would now rest at home.

 

Bango said: "He is still swollen and in pain, but he feels it's better to recuperate from home ... he is still not himself."

 

He said Tsvangirai was still suffering from dizziness. Doctors have not confirmed a fracture.

 

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In an article in Britain's Independent newspaper on Friday, the 55-year-old Tsvangirai said "democratic change" was in sight in Zimbabwe and vowed to press on to end Mugabe's 27-year rule.

 

"They [police] brutalised my flesh. But they will never break my spirit. I will soldier on until Zimbabwe is free," he wrote, saying he suffered an "orgy of heavy beatings" in custody.

 

Mugabe's government accused Tsvangirai and his group of resisting arrest and waging a violent, militia-style campaign to topple the 83-year-old ruler, a claim the opposition rejected.

 

Tsvangirai and others who were arrested in the crackdown face charges of public violence and convening an illegal rally, defence lawyers say. The charges usually lead to fines not jail.

 

'Go hang'

 

Mugabe meanwhile has told critics of his government to "go hang" themselves in response to the arrest and assault of Tsvangirai.

 
After talks with Jakaya Kikwete, the Tanzanian president, on Thursday, Mugabe accused the MDC of instigating violence.
 
Mugabe also told Western governments that they should keep their nose out of Zimbabwe's affairs.
 

At a joint press conference with Kikwete, Mugabe said: "When they criticise the government when it tries to prevent violence and punish perpetrators of that violence we take the position that they can go hang.

  

"Here are groups of people [the MDC] who went out of their way to effect acts of violence.

 

"We hear no criticism to this campaign from Western governments. This is the West that has always supported the opposition elsewhere, again showing its true colours. We don't accept their criticism."

 

Tanzania mediation

  

A foreign ministry official in Tanzania said that Kikwete had gone to mediate between Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the MDC.

 

Mugabe said Western governments should
keep out of Zimbabwe's affairs [AFP]
Bernard Membe, Tanzania's foreign minister, said: "Our president believes that as the chairman of the Sadc peace and security organs, and in collaboration with other Sadc leaders, they can solve Zimbabwe's problems diplomatically."

 

He said members of the bloc's peace and security organisation would meet on March 26 and 27 in Dar es Salaam.

 
Membe told a news conference: "This is the troika meeting and afterwards I believe we will be able to discuss peace and security in the region including in Zimbabwe."
 
During Kikwete's talks with Mugabe, the pair agreed to begin "a new chapter" in efforts to fix Zimbabwe's crisis, Membe said.
 
Mugabe had assured his Tanzanian counterpart that opposition leaders caught up in the government crackdown would receive fair treatment under Zimbabwean law, he said.
 
Tanzania's foreign minister said: "President Mugabe assured President Kikwete all the problems that took place will be dealt with within the law and all those involved will have their rights."

Source: Agencies