A senior European Union official said Tuesday after meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma that the EU was ready to review travel and economic sanctions targeting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle. Mr. Zuma had been expected to lobby for such a review in his meeting with EU officials in Brussels.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said after the Brussels summit between EU and South African officials that Europe would like to “give Zimbabwe chances of success.” Last seek senior U.S. officials rebuffed a Zimbabwean delegation on the point of sanctions, citing insufficient progress on human rights.
Mr. Zuma, mediator in Zimbabwe on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, made the case in the discussions that Western sanctions were hindering Harare’s economic and social recovery.
While expressing the EU's willingness to review sanctions, Mr. Van Rompuy stated that the measures targeting Mr. Mugabe and top officials of his ZANU-PF party "never harm ordinary Zimbabwe or impede development."
Mr. Zuma said in a statement after the meeting that global issues discussed with the EU included Zimbabwe and Sudan. He said an agreement to enhance trade and economic ties between the EU and Pretoria will be concluded by the end of the year.
In Harare, meanwhile, a ZANU-PF spokesman responded to comments by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai saying Mr. Mugabe's party, not sanctions, was to blame for Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown. Mr. Tsvangirai told delegates at a Harare seminar held Monday by the Center for Public Accountability and the Media Institute of Southern Africa that the ZANU-PF government ruined the economy by making bad economic decisions.
Addressing a conference, Mr. Tsvangirai dismissed claims by President Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF officials that sanctions undermined the Zimbabwean economy. He said the real causes of the decline were misgovernance and corruption as well as political violence, human rights violations and other alleged ZANU-PF abuses.
Mr. Tsvangirai has been urging the West to lift sanctions in keeping with the commitments he made in the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing in a unity government - but he has also told ZANU-PF officials that that his Movement for Democratic Change cannot determine when Western sanctions will be lifted.
Tsvangirai’s remarks seemed likely to further sour relations between the governing parties in a tense environment. ZANU-PF Chief Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo described Mr. Tsvangirai’s remarks as unfortunate.
Economist Godfrey Kanyenze of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that Western sanctions did not undermine Zimbabwe's economy.