A date and place for the summit has not been set.

Small victory

A deal signed on September 15 has stalled over how to share government ministries among Zanu-PF, the party of Robert Mugabe, the president, Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and a breakaway faction of the MDC, led by Arthur Mutambara.

Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, of trying to keep too many of the most powerful posts.

But Tsvangirai gained a small victory when he got the SADC committee that met in Harare on Monday and Tuesday to accept his call for a summit.

The opposition argues that only a full SADC gathering has the authority to pressure Mugabe.

Zimbabwe has been on the agenda of repeated SADC mini- and full summits, and the leaders have pushed Mugabe to accept more and more compromises.
 
Several SADC leaders have shown growing impatience with Mugabe, and may press him hard behind closed doors.

The latest talks were attended by Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Mutambara and leaders from South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Swaziland.

Troika recommendation

The last three make up SADC's troika, a special committee on politics, defence and security.

Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president, attended as the mediator who brokered the deal.

Salamao said the troika recommended "the holding of a full SADC summit to further review the current political situation in Zimbabwe as a matter of urgency".

An agreement in Zimbabwe would allow politicians to turn their attention to the nation's economic crisis, which has led to chronic shortages of food, fuel and most basic goods.

Zimbabwe has the world's highest official inflation rate of 231 million per cent. The UN predicts half the population will need food aid by next year.

A doctors group has also called for urgent action to repair water and sewage systems to avert a cholera epidemic during the forthcoming seasonal rains.

It reported at least 120 preventable deaths across the county this year from cholera alone. At least 27 people have died in the past month.