SADC acts on Zim sanctions
Windhoek – A team of SADC officials was in Washington, London and Brussels last week in what could be the first concrete steps towards pressurizing the US, Britain and the European Union to remove illegal sanctions that are choking Zimbabwe’s economic. The SADC team comprised representatives from Namibia (current chair of the regional bloc), Zambia (chair of the group’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security), and South Africa (the SADC-appointed mediator in Zimbabwe’s interparty talks). The SADC officials returned home this week after going to Washington, where they reportedly held talks with US President Barack Obama’s advisers, and Brussels – which is the EU headquarter – and London. SADC executive secretary Dr Tomaz Salomao told this paper: “The team was fulfilling a SADC Summit decision on the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe. “I can’t comment on what was achieved on the visit by the officials as they are still preparing their report.” Insiders say the report will be forwarded to all concerned parties and will be subject to debate at a SADC Extraordinary Summit scheduled for May 20 in Windhoek, Namibia. The West imposed the sanctions on Zimbabwe after the country embarked on a revolutionary land reform programme at the turn of the millennium. The EU and the US have persistently ignored calls by SADC, the African Union, the Pan African Parliament, COMESA and the Non-Aligned Movement for an end to the embargo. An assessment of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement – which governs relations between the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific bloc and the EU and under which some of the sanctions were imposed – showed that processes had been abused after the UK applied pressure for Zimbabwe to be placed under an embargo. The study was commissioned by the EU itself but has been kept low key, perhaps because of its embarrassing contents. (See next week’s The Southern Times.) The sanctions remain a key outstanding issue threatening the continued existence of Zimbabwe’s coalition government as only Zanu-PF has acted on the requirement that the parties lobby against the embargo while MDC-T and MDC have not pulled their weight on the matter.