11 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Biti Tells Off West . . . Admits Regime Change Agenda Has Failed

MDC-T secretary-general and Finance Minister Tendai Biti has publicly admitted that the regime change agenda was no longer sustainable in Zimbabwe and implored the West to stop their policy of trying to isolate President Mugabe.

He told Canada and other Western countries on Tuesday to lift the illegal sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe because "they are not serving anyone".

Minister Biti told reporters after delivering a lecture at Carleton University in Ottawa on Tuesday that it did not make sense to isolate the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces who leads the inclusive Government formed in 2009.

He said the isolationist policy was no longer useful.

"The use of sanctions and isolation (against President Mugabe), I think they've outlived their usefulness," he told a Canadian paper, the Globe and Mail.

Reports say Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told Mr Biti that Canada was not ready to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe and some officials.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Mr Rick Roth said his Government made it clear during a private meeting between ministers Baird and Biti that sanctions would not go soon.

Mr Roth said the sanctions regime was always under review.

Mr Roth, however, acknowledged that Minister Biti gave Minister Baird an update on financial and political reforms in Zimbabwe.

However, Minister Baird said Canada wanted to see Zimbabwe's new Constitution finalised and the holding of free and fair elections.

These are the same conditions all the European Union members are setting to lift the illegal embargo.

Minister Biti urged Canada to soften its stance on Zimbabwe.

"Canada is such an important country and has been an important country over the years, that it must be engaged in Africa and in the difficult places over the world," Minister Biti was reported as having said in the Globe and Mail.

Recently, Minister Biti wrote to the United States Treasury Department protesting against the inclusion of diamond firms, among them Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources, on the sanctions list.

The companies are partnering the Government-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation that is already on the US sanctions list, to mine diamonds in Marange.

Minister Biti told Assistant US Treasury Secretary Charles Collyns that the US actions were counterproductive.

"It would be curious to find out the motive of your decision against the two companies. Your decision will not stop the mining that is a sovereign issue covered by international law.

"Most importantly, it will not stop the sale of diamonds. All it does is to encourage more opaqueness and underwriting of the diamond industry . . . this is a self-defeating and retrogressive position; one which I hope was not taken to placate powerful interests who were against the Kinshasa agreement."

Minister Biti flies to London from Canada to speak at Friday's ZimInvest London 2013 Fair which aims to promote Zimbabwe as a safe investment destination.

Observers say all MDC formations should join hands and campaign for the unconditional removal of the illegal sanctions.

Before their split, leaders of the parties contributed in the crafting of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act that was amended to Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act in 2010.

This law has been used by America to maintain all forms of sanctions on Zimbabwe and observers say the law must be repealed because denouncing the sanctions alone would not change anything.

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