Tuesday, December 25, 2007

(NEW ZIMBABWE, AFP) Zuma backs 'quiet diplomacy' on Zim, attacks sanctions

Zuma backs 'quiet diplomacy' on Zim, attacks sanctions
Last updated: 12/20/2007 19:57:51

NEWLY-ELECTED ANC leader Jacob Zuma gave his backing Thursday to South Africa's controversial policy of "quiet diplomacy" towards its troubled northern neighbour Zimbabwe. In his first press conference as head of the governing party, Zuma defended the South African President Thabo Mbeki's refusal to publicly criticise his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe, saying it "is better than any shouting from any part of the world."

Zuma also criticised a package of Western sanctions against Mugabe's regime, which the European Union and United States say do not affect Zimbabweans as a whole.

"I don't think sanctions have produced anything," said Zuma who used his inaugural speech as leader of the African National Congress to praise a number of African political parties including Mugabe's Zanu PF.

Zuma's victory in the ANC leadership contest puts him in pole position to succeed South African President Thabo Mbeki in 2009.

Mbeki was tasked earlier this year by his fellow leaders in southern Africa with mediating between the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front and Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change ahead of elections next year.

Hopes of an agreement on the election framework have risen after the government recently agreed to soften some of its hardline security and media laws.

Zuma said measures such as the sanctions, which include a travel ban on Mugabe and his inner circle, had failed to produce results.

"What has worked in Zimbabwe outside our engagement? Nothing.". - AFP

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