A high-level European Union delegation visiting South Africa this week urged President Jacob Zuma to step up his mediation efforts in Harare and push for democratic reforms that will allow free and fair Zimbabwe elections.
Mr. Zuma has been mediating the Zimbabwean political crisis at the behest of the Southern African Development Community.
Concluding a summit to promote diplomatic and trade ties between Pretoria and Brussels, the European delegates said the extended Zimbabwe crisis should be resolved before elections.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and EU Commission Chief Jose Manuel Barroso led the team meeting with Mr. Zuma and other officials.
President Zuma urged the lifting of sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle, but South African government sources said Van Rompuy countered that the EU had already lifted some restrictions on business entities with links to ZANU-PF.
Van Rompuy said a credible road map for the elections Mr. Mugabe says should be held before March next year is of “utmost importance” to any review of restrictive measures.
Brussels and Washington imposed the punitive measures on Mugabe and his inner circle almost a decade ago protesting the breakdown of the rule of law and human rights violations by the ZANU-PF government in power at the time.
London-based political analyst Brilliant Mhlanga told VOA reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that maintaining sanctions only hardens Mr. Mugabe’s anti-reform position.