But analysts warn that despite frenetic lobbying that saw Mugabe sending envoys to most Southern African Development Community (Sadc) countries to plead his case, it will not be an easy walk in Pretoria for the 87-year-old leader.
The weekend indaba will be held on the sidelines of the Sadc, East Africa Community and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) tripartite summit.
It is a follow up to the March Sadc Troika summit in Livingstone, Zambia, which chastised Mugabe for failing to stop political violence and his reluctance to embrace necessary reforms.
Mugabe described the Livingstone summit as a “bombshell” and claimed that the outcome had “serious inaccuracies.” The co-ruling party publicly attacked Sadc and accused it of trying to interfere with Zimbabwe’s internal affairs but later withdrew its criticism.
Zanu PF’s fight back strategy aided by a partisan police force has been to portray MDC-T as the violent party. The strategy has raised temperatures in the country and a political time bomb is waiting to explode.
Trevor Maisiri of the Africa Reform Institute said he does not expect Sadc to relent from the Livingstone stance even though Mugabe was likely to get a sympathetic ear from a full Sadc summit.
“The summit may actually come out in support of the Livingstone resolutions,” he said.
“I don’t think Sadc will shift its position given political developments since Livingstone.”
He said recent developments in the country were not likely to influence the summit and Mugabe’s diplomatic push might come to naught. A roadmap for fresh elections is likely to dominate the discussions.
Zanu PF has been trying to distance itself from the roadmap being crafted with the assistance of Sadc appointed facilitator and South African President Jacob Zuma.
Mugabe has demanded that elections be held this year despite advice from regional leaders that the country was not ready for a fresh poll.
However, the ageing leader on Thursday appeared to be retreating from his hardline stance saying the elections could be held next year.
DA showing in SA local polls piles pressure on Zuma
Trevor Maisiri of the Africa Reform Institute says Zuma could be under pressure to atone for his failed mediation efforts in Libya and Ivory Coast by actively pushing for a resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis.
He said Zimbabwe could be one of the reasons Zuma’s Africa National Congress (ANC) lost ground to the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) in recent municipal elections.
“If you basically look at one of the strengths of the DA in South Africa, it is its strong stance on Zimbabwe and other regional political trouble spots,” Maisiri said.
“Zuma is likely to act on Zimbabwe so as to disarm the DA of one of its major critical leverages in terms of its expressions on South Africa’s foreign policy and regional inter-play.”
He said Zuma knew that if he effectively acted on Zimbabwe then the DA would have not much ammunition with which to attack the South African government’s quiet diplomacy on foreign policy ideals, which had become synonymous with Mbeki.
High hopes meeting will whip Mugabe into line
Bekithemba Mpofu, the founding united MDC youth secretary general said the forthcoming Sadc summit was likely to produce fireworks.
“I forsee fireworks during the Sadc summit particularly because Zanu PF will insist on their demands for elections this year while the facilitator and the MDC factions will rightfully reject the idea of holding the polls this year,” he said.
“So these divergent expectations are set to result in a compromise and that the roadmap will lead to an election mid-next year.”
Mpofu said if the MDC formations were serious about a free and fair election they would use the summit to push for a 2013 date.
Sadc has been seized with the Zimbabwe crisis since Mugabe won a controversial election against Tsvangirai in 2002.
In 2008, the regional body appeared to have made a breakthrough when Zuma’s predecessor Thabo Mbeki successfully negotiated the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
The subsequent unity government formed in 2009, although managing to reverse a decade-long economic decline under Zanu PF rule, has failed to function properly.