29 September 2010

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Shoots Down Zanu PF Sanctions Argument

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has blamed his coalition partner ZANU PF for destroying the economy and shot holes into their persistent claims that targeted sanctions were to blame. Speaking at a public accountability seminar in Harare on Monday Tsvangirai said; 'Our problems emanated from mis-governance, the violent land reform and RBZ's printing of worthless currency, that is the bearer cheques.'

Tsvangirai said all these compounded to turn 'a political problem to an economic one'. He denied there were any economic sanctions on the country but said they were 'restrictive measures.' The Prime Minister was referring to targeted financial and travel restrictions imposed by western countries on people and companies in Mugabe's inner circle, who have benefited from human rights abuses.

So why has Tsvangirai's MDC-T party agreed to be part of a government re-engagement committee campaigning to have the measures removed? The MDC-T leader told the seminar; 'We have agreed as principals to tackle the issue of restrictive measures as this isolation has affected the lines of credit.' He also said ZANU PF's 'deliberate campaign of intimidation, abusing the rule of law' among other things had decimated the economy and scared away investors.

This week the re-engagement committee met US politicians in a futile attempt to get them to remove the targeted sanctions. The US said although it recognized the economic advances made in Zimbabwe, there was no progress on the political front or terms of respect for human and property rights. They said the 'current political and human rights environment in Zimbabwe remained troublesome' and said 'Zimbabwe must make further progress before the targeted sanctions would be removed'.

It has not helped that disharmony between the coalition partners has shown their arrangement to be unworkable. Mugabe has refused to review the appointments of the central bank governor and attorney general, swear in MDC-T nominee for Deputy Agriculture Minister Roy Bennett or appoint MDC-T and MDC-M governors as agreed in the GPA. The ZANU PF leader has used the maintenance of targeted sanctions as the excuse for not honouring his obligations under the deal.

The death of ZANU PF spokesman Ephraim Masawi on Saturday also exposed another contentious issue, that of the partisan nature of national hero selection. The two MDC formations have said they will not attend his burial at the national Heroes Acre. MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa likened the burial to a private ZANU PF ceremony saying, "We have never been known to be gatecrashers. It's a gated and walled affair and we respect their bedroom, so why should we barge in?"

When MDC founding figure Gibson Sibanda died in August, ZANU PF refused to recognize him as a national hero, sparking angry reactions from the two MDC formations. The granting of hero status to Masawi, who did not even fight in the liberation war, will further infuriate the coalition partners even more.

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