Friday, March 20, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) West divided over Zimbabwe policy

West divided over Zimbabwe policy
Philip Murombedzi
Fri, 20 Mar 2009 05:19:00 +0000

WESTERN countries are divided on what policy to adopt after the formation of the inclusive Government in Zimbabwe with Nordic countries taking a lead in shifting policy on the country, while Britain, United States and their allies say they will take a ‘cautious approach’ in supporting the new Government.

Nordic countries like Denmark and Sweden have expressed willingness to work with the inclusive Government. Denmark became the first Western country to initiate dialogue with Zimbabwe as the country embarks on a journey to end nearly a decade of international isolation.

Danish Co-operation Minister Ulla Tornaes arrived in Harare on Tuesday on a mission to assess progress in the implementation of Zimbabwe’s power-sharing agreement and explore areas of cooperation between the two countries. The country has pledged to look into how it can assist with payment of civil servants’ salaries.

"I am very impressed by the way the new inclusive Government is addressing the issue of the economy and I am very impressed by the way the Minister of Finance described how the new inclusive Government will bring this country back on track in terms of the economy," said Tornaes.

Swedish Development Aid Minister Gunilla Carlsson said in a statement that the country was willing to work with Zimbabwe and commended the formation of the inclusive Government. The country immediately announced a US$10.5 million package to fight the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, among other initiatives.

Portugal on Thursday urged the European Union to re-engage Zimbabwe while Japan has indicated that it will lift travel bans on Zimbabwe because it is a safe tourist destination..

Portuguese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Joao Da Camara said the EU should re-engage Zimbabwe in the wake of the formation of the inclusive Government.

Mr Da Camara said the inclusive Government presented an opportunity for the normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and the E.U. bloc.

Speaking to journalists after paying a courtesy call on Vice President Joice Mujuru at her Munhumutapa Offices in Harare yesterday, Mr Da Camara pledged to strengthen relations between Harare and Lisbon.


Britain and the United States have, however, expressed scepticism about Zimbabwe's new inclusive Government

Although Britain seems to be shifting policy on Zimbabwe, it has not opened diplomatic channels of communication with the inclusive Government. Although the country’s Africa Minister, Lord Malloch Brown said he had been convinced by African leaders at a summit in Ethiopia that the new government must be given a chance, little has been done by way of initiating dialogue with Harare.

"I think the one message I've got loud and clear from this summit, and I'm very sympathetic to it, is we've got to give this a go, we've got to all do our best to support it, because the needs of Zimbabweans are so overwhelming," he told BBC radio in an interview from Addis Ababa last month.

"We're sceptical but we've got to try and help this work," he said, saying Britain and others would be generous donors if the agreement succeeded.

Malloch Brown said Britain is not ready to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe until they see “proof on the ground”.

“we are not going to completely put away our stick, if you like, until we're convinced it is" making real progress.

The new Obama administration has dropped its public demand for President Mugabe to step down but has extended sanctions imposed under the Zimbabwe Democracy Recovery Act (Zidera) passed in 2002, for another year.

On Thursday U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters that the Obama administration was not ready to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe.
He said the inclusive Government had “a long way to go” before the illegal sanctions imposed on the country are lifted.

"We have not yet seen sufficient evidence from the government of Zimbabwe that they are firmly and irrevocably on a path to inclusive and effective governance, and as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law,".

He added: "So that government has a long way to go before we will consider ... easing sanctions with that government. We're not in any kind of discussion with ... the government of Zimbabwe on removing our ... sanctions.

"With regard to the government, it's got a long way to go before we will look at removing any ... sanctions."


President Mugabe on Thursday appealed to Western sanctions to remove these punitive sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Speaking at the launch of the Short Term Economic Recovery Program (STERP) at the Rainbow Towers Hotel (formerly Sheraton) in Zimbabwe, the president said: "To the European Union and the United States, I appeal for the removal of your sanctions which are inhumane, cruel and unwarranted."

"We also wish to appeal to all those countries which wish us to succeed to support our national endeavour to turn around our economy," he added.

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