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Western Sanctions on Zimbabwe Sore Point in EU-South African Discussions

The European Union and South African on Friday issued a joint statement urging that parties sharing power in Zimbabwe under the September 2008 Global Political Agreement to fully implement its terms, but the EU and Pretoria did not see eye to eye on sanctions.

Sources said the Zimbabwe question dominated bilateral talks in Cape Town but the joint statement made no reference to the travel and financial sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and other top officials of the former ruling ZANU-PF party.

South African President Jacob Zuma was said to have been pushing Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, currently EU president, to consider lifting the sanctions imposed by Brussels in 2002. This followed a similar call from the Southern African Development Community this week. But Mr. Reinfeldt said Harare must first fully implement the GPA.

EU Aid Commissioner Karel De Gucht took up the question of EU sanctions in detail during a press briefing in Cape Town, and added that his visit to Zimbabwe this weekend with Swedish Development Minister Gunilla Carlsson would not focus only on sanctions.

President Robert Mugabe, meanwhile, appeared to be digging in ahead of the visit by the EU delegation, telling a ZANU-PF youth conference in Harare that the “bloody whites” in Britain and the United States were meddling in Harare's business by imposing sanctions.

Mr. Mugabe said he had learned lessons from power-sharing, urging ZANU-PF youth to work toward a big victory for the party in the next elections to avoid more power-sharing.

Political analyst Joy Mabenge told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that with human rights violations continuing and Mr. Mugabe remaining intransigent, even South African President Zuma cannot convince the West to lift sanctions.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai continued a round of consultative meetings in Bulawayo where he heard concerns of residents on the unity government’s performance ahead of his meeting this weekend with the EU delegation.

Mr. Tsvangirai was also slated to meet Saturday with the national council and executive of his formation of the Movement for Democratic Change to review power-sharing.

On Sunday he was to address a party rally at Bulawayo’s White City Stadium.

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Bulawayo residents urged the prime minister to ensure the government gives development priority to Matabeleland.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...