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Four Southern African Presidents to Lobby US, Europe to Lift Zimbabwe Sanctions

Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi, now African Union chairman, are expected to visit Western capitals soon

The Southern African Development Community has asked four regional leaders to urge the United States and Europe to lift sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and about 200 top officials of his ZANU-PF party.

Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi, currently chairman of the African Union, are expected to travel to Western capitals in the near future to bolster the campaign for the removal of the targeted sanctions.

In Brussels this week, Mr. Zuma urged European leaders to lift the sanctions. Members of the European Parliament urged him to take the lead in helping to resolve some of Africa’s most serious conflicts.

"On Zimbabwe, we gave leadership before anybody else did and the current power-sharing deal was facilitated by South Africa", Mr Zuma told Euro-MPs, calling on the international community to lift sanctions.

"This would give a chance to the efforts we are making there and empower the Southern African Development Community to do more on Zimbabwe," the South African leader argued.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly last week, Malawi's wa Mutharika told world leaders: "The African Union feels the ideological justification (for the sanctions), if ever there was any, has outlived its time.

The EU has incrementally softened its stance on sanctions, earlier this year removing some state-controlled firms from the list and inviting individuals who believed they were erroneously named to submit supporting documentation.

Adopting what analysts described as a carrot-and-stick approach, the European Union said in acknowledgment of the progress made by the unity government that it has allocated an additional 138 million euros to Harare.

EU Deputy Director General for Development Christian Leffler said a bilateral strategy will be developed in consultation with civic groups and the government on how to use those new funds.

Energy Minister Elton Mangoma, head of a Cabinet task force on sanctions, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that SADC leaders must act quickly to seek removal of the sanctions in order to be taken seriously.

But political analyst Charles Mangongongera said the EU approach is unlikely to work with Harare as the composition of the inclusive government makes it difficult to provide assistance only to reform-minded ministries.

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