The Herald (Harare)

14 December 2012

Zimbabwe: EU, U.S. Ambassadors Must Walk Their Talk

editorial

The European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Aldo Dell'Ariccia and the newly appointed United States envoy Mr David Bruce Wharton's remarks this week commending the country's electoral processes are welcome.

It shows the two international political forces are coming to terms with the reality that Zimbabwe, for too long, has been vilified for wrong reasons.

Speaking to The Herald on Tuesday, Mr Dell'Ariccia said the EU bloc would not interfere with Zimbabwe's electoral processes this time because relations between Harare and Brussels had improved immensely.

"I consider the relationship between the EU bloc countries and Zimbabwe as positive as of now. The EU has taken several steps in re-engaging Zimbabwe and several people were taken off the economic measures that did not permit trade with Zimbabwe," he said.

As if it was co-ordinated, the American envoy also said while in Bulawayo the same day that the country's polls have been held in a professional manner.

"Zimbabwe's elections have been run in a professional manner. I for instance had a personal experience with the 2002 elections which were well run. This country is able to run a credible election," he told journalists at the Bulawayo Press club.

What is intriguing is that these statements are coming from ambassadors representing the most powerful institutions in the world politically and economically.

The US Government imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe that are backed by the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, transformed to Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act in 2010.

While the EU slapped the embargoes on Zimbabwe, theirs are not backed by law but just a consensus of the 27 members of the bloc.

We have heard enough of this rhetoric and we challenge the envoys to walk the talk. The country has had enough of these ambassadors' sweet and diplomatic statements that they want to build bridges between their capitals and Harare. Meanwhile, Zimbabweans and the economy continue to bleed from the effects of the illegal sanctions imposed by their Governments.

Zimbabweans will feel betrayed if the EU decides to extend the sanctions for the next 12 months when it meets to review the illegal embargoes in February next year.

Surely after these positive remarks from the envoys accredited here, Zimbabweans expect positive developments in February next year.

As for the US ambassador, he has been in Zimbabwe between 1990 and 2003 as an officer at the embassy's public affairs section and he witnessed how the sanctions decimated the country.

We expect him to tell the Barack Obama administration that Zimbabwe is not a rogue state but a young democracy that deserves to be accorded its rightful place among the community of nations.

Zimbabwe has never failed to conduct general elections as and when they become due and it baffles the mind to note that these countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe support some states elsewhere that have failed to run democratic elections.

Zimbabwe is not a strife-torn country and the US and the EU envoys must act as ambassadors in the true sense and tell their Governments that Zimbabwe is peaceful, democratic and will always conduct free, fair and legitimate polls.

We implore these envoys to tell their administrations that Zimbabweans have never disappeared with ballot boxes during voting days and that no polling stations have been blown up using fuel tankers or grenades.

The leaders of all political parties in the inclusive Government have assured the world that Zimbabwe will hold the polls peacefully and they are on record condemning political violence.

It is against this backdrop that we challenge the two envoys to advocate for the removal of the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe because there is no basis for their existence.

It does not make political sense for the ambassadors to continue commending positive developments in Zimbabwe yet 120 Zanu-PF officials, businesspeople and 70 companies remain under sanctions.

The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme has cleared Zimbabwean diamonds and allowed them free market globally.

However, the companies and Zimbabweans cannot realise full benefits from this natural resource due to the US State Treasury department's Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions.

Global transactions in US dollars wired to any country or company are cleared by the US Treasury department and money meant for Marange diamonds has been intercepted and forfeited.

The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and its business partners - Anjin Investment and Mbada Diamonds among others -- have been placed on OFAC sanctions.

In as much as we welcome the statements from the two envoys, we challenge them to walk the talk and advise their Governments that Zimbabweans have suffered enough due to the illegal sanctions and they should be lifted immediately.

Mr Wharton should be reminded that the country still remembers the statements he made when he presented his credentials to President Mugabe.

He said; "I will begin my term here by listening and learning about the goals of the Zimbabwean people and how the US can be a good partner. US policy towards Zimbabwe is not static, and will respond positively to Zimbabwe's progress on the roadmap to constitutional reform and elections."

We say the responses should not end verbally, but practically with the removal of the embargoes.

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