Friday, September 27, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Zanu PF could rule forever, SADC warns rivals
02/09/2013 00:00:00
by Moses Chibaya

A TOP SADC diplomat has warned local opposition groups that Zanu PF could easily extend its rule by a century unless they work to have sanctions imposed by the West removed.

Speaking in Harare Monday at the presentation of the SADC observer mission’s final report on the July 31 elections, the mission’s head and Tanzania foreign minister Bernard Membe said the sanctions had in fact become a key cog in the electoral arsenal President Robert Mugabe’s party.

Member challenged oppostion groups to urge the West to remove the measures warning they had no hope of toppling Zanu PF as long as the sanctions remain in place.

“Let me tell you this passionately from my heart, and if there are opposition leaders here and if there are opposition people in this conference you know this question of sanctions must be fought by all parties," he said.

“To tell the world to remove the sanctions because if you don’t it’s very difficult for the opposition to win elections. As long as sanctions are there this Zanu PF will prevail for 100 years to come if you hear me.”

Western countries slapped Zimbabwe with sanctions nearly a decade ago over allegations of rights abuses and electoral fraud which are rejected by Mugabe who insists that the country is being punished for its land reforms.

Australia and the European Union (EU) suspended some of the sanctions in the lead up to last month’s elections to reward reforms which included a new constitution as well as encourage the country to hold “free and fair elections”.

Mugabe, who turned 89 this year and has ruled the country since independence in 1980, was re-elected for another five year term with 61% of the presidential vote against 34 percent for MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The African Union (AU) and SADC endorsed Mugabe’s re-election, brushing aside Tsvangirai’s allegations that his rival had engineered a monumental electoral fraud.

But hopes the sanctions – which Mugabe blames for bringing the country close to complete economic ruin in the last decade and for continuing problems sustaining a tentative stability recovery – were dashed after Western nations backed Tsvangirai’s claim that the elections were not credible.

Despite pleas by the AU and SADC for the sanctions to be removed, the United States ruled out a review of the measures while the EU and other countries such as Australia indicated an immediate change in policy towards Zimbabwe was unlikely in the immediate term.

But Membe said opposition groups were better off working to have the sanctions removed unless they were prepared to never have a realistic chance of toppling Zanu PF.

He said once voters are told that they are suffering because of sanctions and “you have agents that are working in favour of these sanctions in the country then you are putting yourself in a very awkward position electorally.”

“You will never win and so my challenge and the challenge that I am giving to you all the ruling party and the opposition; the question of appealing to the world to remove sanctions in Zimbabwe is fundamental not only to the people of Zimbabwe but it also gives a chance to the opposition to come to power in 2018,” he added.

“SADC will have to make sure that we approach the donors particularly the European Union and the countries like the United States to completely remove sanctions.”

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