Britain's Africa minister in South Africa for talks on Zimbabwe
The British government minister responsible for Africa, Mark Malloch Brown, was due to hold talks with South Africa's Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Thursday about the situation in neighbouring Zimbabwe, where a cholera outbreak has killed close to 800 people, reported dpa.
South Africa's foreign ministry spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa confirmed that Malloch Brown would be visiting Dlamini-Zuma before later meeting Zimbabwean refugees at a church in downtown Johannesburg.
Malloch Brown's visit comes after South Africa this week ruled out taking part in any military intervention in Zimbabwe to depose President Robert Mugabe.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown last weekend called for "international" action to remove Mugabe as the southern Africa country crumbles under an unprecedented economic and health crisis.
The British premier said "enough is enough." The United States, France, Germany and the European Union have also called for Mugabe to go.
But South Africa, which is currently chairing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional political grouping, says a proposed unity government, in which Mugabe would remain president and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai becomes prime minister, is still the best solution to Zimbabwe's troubles.
The African Union also still backs the formation of a power-sharing government. Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed up to share power in September but their parties disagree on how positions of power should be allocated.
Meanwhile, the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe is spilling over into neighbouring countries, where Zimbabweans travel regularly in search of basic foodstuffs no longer available in empty supermarkets at home.
South Africa has declared the cholera-hit Vhembe region in Limpopo province bordering Zimbabwe a disaster area in an attempt to stem the epidemic's spread there.
Eight people have died of cholera in the area so far and 664 are infected, an official report said. The World Health Organization on Wednesday listed nine dead in the region.
A further four people have died in Mozambique in a border area near Zimbabwe, that country's Noticias paper reported on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe's state-controlled Herald newspaper said Thursday that Zambia and Tanzania were also affected.