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South African Opposition Urges Zuma Not to Lobby Against Zimbabwe Sanctions

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Mr. Zuma said he will ask British authorities to support the removal of European Union sanctions, which he says are hurting efforts by Harare’s national unity government to relaunch the economy

South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance on Monday said President Jacob Zuma should encourage the British government to maintain sanctions on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and top officials of his ZANU-PF party, rather than advocate lifting them as he is expected to do in London this week.

Mr. Zuma said last week that he will ask British authorities including Queen Elizabeth to support the removal of European Union sanctions, which he says are hurting efforts by Harare’s national unity government to relaunch the economy.

But the Democratic Alliance issued said Mr. Zuma “needs to support the European community’s decision to reconstitute sanctions” as Zimbabwe’s progress towards democracy has been limited since the power-sharing government was installed in early 2009.

The Democratic Alliance said Mr. Zuma’s campaign for sanctions to be removed "smacked of hypocrisy" in light of the outspoken stance on Zimbabwe that he took in the run-up to his election last year. The party said that South Africa itself should consider imposing sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and his associates.

VOA was unable to obtain a response from Mr. Zuma's office to the opposition statement.

The EU’s recent renewal of travel and financial restrictions on Mr. Mugabe and his inner circle has left the Harare government in disarray with ZANU-PF accusing the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of doing too little to get sanctions lifted.

ZANU-PF youth militants marching last week in Harare issued what the MDC considered to be a veiled threat against Mr. Tsvangirai over the continued sanctions, giving him until March 24 to step up his efforts to obtain removal of travel and financial restrictions on ZANU-PF officials and related companies.

African affairs researcher Knox Chitiyo of the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo the Democratic Alliance is unlikely to sway Mr. Zuma’s position on Zimbabwean sanctions.

Chitiyo said it is "very clear" Zuma will lobby for the sanctions to be lifted. "But in turn I think he is going to come under a lot of pressure from Britain on various issues relating to the Global Political Agreement" for power sharing in Harare, he added.

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