Saturday, January 30, 2010
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has condemned British Foreign Secretary David Miliband remarks regarding EU sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe saying the comments were “unhelpful” and likely to complicate the political situation in the country.
Miliband unwittingly strengthened President Robert Mugabe’s hand in the ongoing political dispute with his rivals by suggesting EU sanctions would continue against Zimbabwe until Tsvangirai called for their removal. Zanu PF has since demanded that the MDC leader call for the removal of the sanctions.
President Mugabe’s party, further, vowed not to make any more concessions in the ongoing dialogue over full implementation of the coalition agreement the parties signed in September 2008 until the sanctions are lifted.
And, as pressure over the issue increases, Tsvangirai told reporters in the Swiss ski resort of Davos where he was attending meetings of the World Economic Forum that Miliband’s comments were ill-conceived and badly timed especially as the country's feuding politicians battle to bridge differences over their power-sharing pact.
He said he had told Miliband during a meeting in Davos that his comments could further complicate the situation in the country.
"I did draw to his attention that his comment was unfortunate, it was uncalled for, because what it literally meant was that the MDC has to accept liability for any restrictions that have been placed on the country, rather than that it is the mis-governance and the failed policies that caused the European Union and the rest of the world to take those punitive measures," Tsvangirai told reporters.
His deputy, Arthur Mutambara, who leads the other MDC formation and was also in Davos took a much more robust position.
"With friends like those, who needs enemies?"
"What he (Miliband) has done is completely unstrategic, is very ignorant and very patronizing. Why? Because he is completely undermining Mr. Tsvangirai's power in the negotiations right now," Mutambara said late Friday.
Tsvangirai said while he did not support Mutambara's strong language, he emphasised to the British envoy that the comments could easily complicate the political battle over how Zimbabwe should be governed.
The MDC-T leader said a general political agreement must be reached at the ongoing power-sharing talks before he could call for western nations to lift their sanctions, which include travel bans on top officials and some curbs on Zimbabwean companies.
"What we want is to re-engage the European Union and normalize our relations," Tsvangirai said. "That is the objective."
Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office issued a statement on Saturday saying that it, and not Zimbabwean officials, will decide when to lift the sanctions.
"The most important factor influencing the U.K.'s views on lifting EU restrictive measures will be evidence of actual change and reform on the ground in Zimbabwe," it said. "We will make our own judgments as to when they should be reinforced or eased."