SA wants sanctions on Zimbabwe lifted
South Africa wants Western nations to lift economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and is pressing Harare's power-sharing government to speed up reforms needed to bring about elections in the troubled country.
Zimbabwe has been plunged into poverty owing to what analysts have said is economic mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party, and hit with sanctions for suspected human-rights abuses and vote-rigging.
"It's not just Zimbabwe that's saying the sanctions are not working. The entire continent is saying that," Lindiwe Zulu, President Jacob Zuma's foreign policy adviser, said yesterday.
Zuma's team of mediators this week met principals from the Movement for Democratic Change and Zanu-PF in Harare, before meeting representatives of smaller parties such as Zanu Ndonga, Zapu and MDC 99. The smaller parties said they wanted a broad-based agreement to be reached before free and fair elections.
All the parties agreed that polls cannot be held this year, although Zanu-PF continues to insist they can be held even if not all the necessary reforms are in place.
The meeting made some progress when it was agreed to appoint three representatives seconded by the Southern African Development Community to work with the joint monitoring and implementation committee to make sure the political parties fully implement the outstanding issues.
SADC seconded David Katye (Tanzania) and Colly Muunyu (Zambia), while South Africa will appoint the third official. The three will work closely with the facilitation team to make sure Zimbabwe finishes its constitution-making process to usher in elections in the next 12 months.
MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said his party was pleased with the way SADC had applied pressure to have the outstanding issues resolved.
"SADC is doing its best to help us get on track. We have been given until June 25 to hold a series of meetings before the team returns. If progress is made then President [Jacob] Zuma will come and assess the situation," he said.
Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, told state television the inclusive government was dysfunctional and claimed the slow pace in the constitution-making process was a poll-delaying tactic.
Professor Jonathan Moyo, who leads a Zanu-PF think-tank, wrote in his column in the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper that the SADC facilitation team was made up of "puppets" and called South Africa's ambassador to Zimbabwe "undiplomatic".
Zulu said: "We are unmoved by statements made about us. Our role is to make sure the people of Zimbabwe have a free and fair environment for elections.
"The negotiators for the three main parties will hold meetings this weekend. The facilitation team will return to Zimbabwe between June 25 and 26 to check on progress. President Zuma has to wait a bit longer to travel to Zimbabwe because there is still a lot to be done," Zulu said.
Mugabe, 88, was forced into a power-sharing deal with rival and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, after a disputed 2008 poll.