New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: MDC-T UK Protests Against EU Harare Envoy

THE opposition MDC-T party's UK branch will hold protests this Saturday to call the "world's attention to the oppressive regime" in Zimbabwe as well as demand the recall of the European Union's Harare envoy.

The branch, aligned to the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC, wants EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell'Ariccia, recalled for allegedly "misinforming" the world about the situation in the country.

Activists said the demonstrations would be staged in the West Midlands City of Birmingham at noon on Saturday.

Ambassador Aldo Dell'Ariccia angered opposition activists last month when he said there was no leadership crisis in Zimbabwe, emphatically stating that President Robert Mugabe, 90 years old this year, was fully in charge of the country.

The envoy however, made clear he was speaking as a political analyst and not a diplomat but that made no difference to opposition parties.

"There is a deteriorating political and economic situation in Zimbabwe which Western countries do not seem to understand, especially the European Union which is being misinformed by its Ambassador in Harare," MDC Birmingham branch chair Paul Kazingizi, said in a statement Monday.

"We are calling for the EU to recall this ambassador, and to start implementing a rational policy on Zimbabwe. We hear that the EU is now set to totally relax the remaining targeted sanctions on President Mugabe's family on November 1.

The envoy's comments were in keeping with a move by the EU to improve relations with Harare after maintaining sanctions against Mugabe and his Zanu PF party for more than a decade.

The sanctions were lifted in February this year except on Mugabe and his wife, Grace, although the EU expressed concern over last year's elections which were dismissed as fraudulent by Tsvangirai.

The MDC-T UK branch said the EU moved to remove sanctions despite Mugabe doing nothing to address is concerns regarding the conduct of the elections which he won with a landslide majority.

After the 2013 vote, Brussels stated that significant improvements were required if future elections were to be credible and urged Harare to ensure "progress on verification of the voter's roll, liberalization of the media, and completing outstanding reforms, including those related to the security sectors".

"The Harare regime has not only failed to do even one of the above, but also refused to implement constitutional amendments passed by Parliament, which would protect free and fair elections. Zimbabweans now believe that the 2018 general election has already been rigged," said Kazingizi in his statement.

"But while it is the EU's prerogative to relax the targeted sanctions that it imposed on President Mugabe because of his violations of human rights, the EU should not try to convince us, the victims of those violations, that something has changed."

The MDC UK said Mugabe and his lieutenants were not suitable candidates for EU sanctions relief given that they had renewed land seizures.

"And only last week the state President encouraged seizures of white-owned farms - the same ruinous and racist economic policies that have now seen the economy deteriorating to crisis levels. Ambassador Dell 'Aricca is, therefore, clearly out of touch with what is going on in Zimbabwe," Kazingizi added.

"We continue to demand free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, especially now in order to rescue Zimbabwe's future which is clearly in peril with President Mugabe's misrule and corruption.

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