Zanu PF should be greatful on engagements

HARARE - Zanu PF officials should be grateful that Britain, the United States of America and European Union, EU is re-engaging them as they continue to ease sanctions on its members.

This year the EU removed a further 81 people from the sanctions list, leaving only 10 who include President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.

The removals have led many observers to criticise the EU’s attempts to restore relations with Zimbabwe as premature and possibly a sign that globally the Zimbabwe crisis is being swept under the rug.

EU’s soft stance surprisingly came amid building tensions in Zimbabwe, with worsening violence against MDC members, intensifying hate speech in the State media, and ongoing threats from Zanu PF to hold an election without the necessary reforms.

While Zanu PF was expected to wholly embrace the EU, US and London talks as noble, it is fool hardy for some misguided elements within the former ruling party who are not grateful at all and are instead pouring scorn on the engagements.

Zanu PF officials are adamant that only meaningful re-engagement would take place if the sanctions were removed entirely.

Patrick Chinamasa, Justice and Legal affairs minister and a Zanu PF official said there was nothing to celebrate on the latest moves by the EU.  “Why should we welcome something that leaves the Head of State and Government (president Mugabe) on the sanctions list,” he queried.

Just recently a special US envoy, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young visited Zimbabwe to mend ties with Zimbabwe but after the meeting which seemed to have gone well with  Mugabe in a jovial mood throughout proceedings, it is surprising that the next morning the state-controlled media was all over with Zanu PF officials alleging that the US envoy had come knees down to apologise for imposing sanctions on Zimbabweans.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Reuben Nrigety, who together with Young met Mugabe on Tuesday, said the meeting focussed on the future.

“We had an exceptional meeting with Mugabe for 90 minutes. He did not dwell on difficulties to our bilateral relationship.

“We came with a message that the United States is prepared to move to the full normalisation of relationships, which a peaceful and credible election will seal,” said Brigety.

Earlier, a Zimbabwean delegation was invited to the UK in a bid to normalise relations with Britain, but after the meeting, the State-controlled media and Zanu PF officials were on the offensive accusing London of chickening out on the sanctions.

Zanu PF saw the invitation as “an indication that Britain realises that its foreign policy on Zimbabwe is collapsing and they want to embark on a new path,” Chinamasa said adding: “Events will tell, but, Britain should realise that its foreign policy on Zimbabwe is not sustainable.”

Zimbabwe was invited for the London talks by the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mark Simmonds. British think-tank, Chatham House, and members of the House of Commons attended the meeting of countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.

It was also an opportunity for the three invited Zimbabwean leaders — Justice and Legal Affairs Minister, Patrick Chinamasa (Zanu PF), Energy and Power Development minister Elton Mangoma (MDC) and regional Integration and International Co-operation minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC) — to engage the international and donor community on the country’s needs before and after elections.

During the talks, Chinamasa pointed out that the Government of Zimbabwe welcomed financial resources to procure motor vehicles, materials and equipment necessary to support the logistics of conducting the forthcoming harmonised elections but rejects the conditionalities of conducting an assessment into Zimbabwe’s political, legal, institutional, technical and electoral framework.

The London talks were important in that they involved representatives of the United States, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and members of the European Union calling themselves; “Friends of Zimbabwe”.

Chinamasa urged the ‘‘Friends of Zimbabwe’’ to stop hindering the open and transparent trade of Zimbabwean diamonds as Zimbabwe is compliant with the KPCS process. He said it was hypocritical to deny Zimbabwe the chance to fully benefit from its natural resources and obviate the need for aid and then boast of the amount of assistance given to Zimbabwe.

Relations between Zimbabwe and Britain turned sour in 1997 on issues concerning the land issue when Britain backtracked and walked out on talks to fund the land reform exercise.

Britain together with its allies in the EU and United States then imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe following Zimbabwe`s implementation of the land reform programme.

Zanu PF officials however still believe that the international community should be honest and acknowledge that the quarrel between Zimbabwe and the UK is a bilateral matter that can only be resolved through bilateral dialogue between the two.

They argue that the issue is about land and not the human rights violations which have been used to smokescreen the actual issue.

During the London talks Chinamasa urged the international community to review the mechanism they use to provide assistance to Zimbabwe saying it should be through the government structures and not through NGOs.
‘‘Friends for Zimbabwe ‘‘produced a communique after the meeting in which they reaffirmed the commitment of their governments to work with any government emerging from free and fair elections, which are credible, peaceful and transparent.

They acknowledged the good work being done by the GNU to stabilise the economy and welcomed the ongoing engagement and support of the multilateral agencies and international financial institutions.

The grouping stressed that transparency and integrity in economic and financial governance and extractive industry management are essential to combat poverty and corruption, and contribute to inclusive economic growth.

It noted that is critical that Zimbabwe’s natural resources are utilised for the benefit of all Zimbabweans and that ownership and revenues from mineral extraction are fully transparent and accountable.
The ‘‘Friends for Zimbabwe’’ said for their part, they collectively stand ready to broaden, deepen and harmonise our engagement and support as the country moves further down the path of democracy and respect for human rights, with credible elections being a crucial element in this respect.

The grouping also welcomed and supported Sadc’s lead role as guarantor of the Global Political Agreement.

 It commended Sadc’s continued efforts, in particular those of the South African facilitation team, in encouraging Zimbabwe’s political parties to work together for the full implementation of necessary reforms ahead of elections.  

The breakthrough leading to the recent constitutional referendum was testimony to these efforts.

 Friends for Zimbabwe strongly welcomed progress on the new constitution and the referendum that was held on March 16 and looked forward to the implementation of the remaining democratic reforms in the GPA and roadmap, and recognised the work of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) in supporting this.

They also welcomed calls by Zimbabwe’s political leaders for peace and non-violence and the statements by party leaders that Zimbabweans should be able to choose their own government in free and fair elections, and to be able to vote without fear or intimidation.

The group expressed concern about current harassment of civil society and reports of political violence and strongly urged that such incidents should cease.

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