17 May 2012

Zimbabwe: Negotiators Demand Lifting of Sanctions

Photo: Matthew Jordaan/WEF
Morgan Tsvangarai, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe (file photo).

Negotiators to parties in the inclusive Government last week signed an agreement demanding the unconditional removal of the EU sanctions regime. The convergence has, however, torched a storm in the MDC-T with some Western donors and Diaspora stalwarts disowning the pact.

The anti-sanctions accord that was presented to EU Policy Chief Lady Cathrine Ashton in Brussels acknowledges that the full implementation of the GPA cannot be achieved in an environment of sanctions.

The sanctions remain the major outstanding GPA issue. The MDC-T's deputy secretary for economic affairs, Mr Elton Mangoma, who led the re-engagement team, is under fire from party hardliners who are accusing him of selling out. Other members of the delegation to the EU included Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC secretary-general) and Patrick Chinamasa (Zanu-PF legal affairs secretary). Sources within MDC-T say the convergence on sanctions had not gone down well with some members of the party culminating in an emergency meeting that was convened on Monday night to discuss the different views. However, in the absence of

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who was on a "honeymoon" with his fiancée Elizabeth Macheka in the United States, no statement was issued.

"The agreement is the correct position of the party, but some of our party members and donors are not happy. They say there was no proper communication, but the case is likely to be settled when the PM Tsvangirai returns.

"Those opposed to the agreement include party treasurer Roy Bennett and the white segment of the party, who feel Mangoma has sold out to Zanu-PF. Those are the same people who are fighting to remove Tsvangirai, arguing he has lost the plot," the source said.

The source added: "Bennett's recent backlash on Tsvangirai that he is concentrating on his marriage and not party issues was a direct consequence of the problems caused by the position."

According to the agreement, parties to the inclusive Government contended that sanctions were crowding out deliberations on other important issues and delaying the full implementation of the GPA. The political parties also agreed that sanctions were polarising the inclusive Government.

"As a result, the Government spends more time discussing sanctions rather that implementing the GPA. Failure to normalise the Zimbabwe-EU relations and the continuance of sanctions is hurting the environment for economic growth of the country.

"Discussion on the Country Strategy Paper normalisation of the Zimbabwe-EU relations is a futile exercise as there is framework for taking forward.

"In conclusion, the meeting agreed that the high representative convey the delegation's representation to all the EU member states and that the EU meeting in July should consider the lifting of all forms of sanctions," read the communiqué.

Contacted for comment yesterday, MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora acknowledged the communiqué but denied divisions, saying the party was behind Mr Mangoma.

"We do support the position taken but feel it has to be a quid pro quo situation. Lifting the sanctions should be in response to improvement on the human rights side of

Zimbabwe. As a party, we believe there should be certain trade-offs by the two parties for the benefit of Zimbabwe.

"Sure, we met on Monday, but that was part of the normal briefing of ambassadors accredited to the country by the party and included the position taken in Brussels," he said.

The MDC-T's Western backers were reported to be fed up with Tsvangirai's leadership and trying to push him out and replace him with an "intellectual".

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