Regional bloc toasts Mugabe, calls for end to Zimbabwe sanctions

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LILONGWE (Malawi): Southern African leaders called on Sunday for the West to lift sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle as they gave their seal of approval to his victory in disputed elections.

Wrapping up its annual summit, the 15-nation Southern African Development Community called for “the lifting of all forms of sanctions hitherto imposed on Zimbabwe”, levelled against the veteran president and blacklisted firms and individuals.

“I believe Zimbabwe deserves better, Zimbabweans have suffered enough,” said the regional bloc’s incoming chairwoman, President Joyce Banda of Malawi.

The SADC also “noted with satisfaction the holding of free and peaceful” elections and congratulated Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party for their overwhelming win in the July 31 vote.

In a further display of confidence in the 89-year old, the leaders appointed Mugabe the deputy chairman of the group and voted that Zimbabwe will host the next SADC summit in July next year.

Mugabe’s main rival, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, has cried foul over the election, which he says was rigged.

He lodged an electoral petition with the courts, but withdrew it a week later claiming he would not get a fair hearing.

That cleared the way for the inauguration of Mugabe, already in power for 33 years. He will take his oath of office on Thursday to begin a fresh five-year mandate, his seventh.

Mugabe, Africa’s oldest leader, first took the reins of a newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980 as prime minister. He became president following a constitutional amendment in 1987.

Zimbabwean pro-democracy activists who travelled to Malawi for the summit deplored SADC’s endorsement of the vote.

The bloc “failed” Zimbabweans and set a “wrong precedent for democratic elections”, said Thabani Nyoni, a spokesman for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, which represents 70 rights groups.

“It kills people’s hopes to change things through an electoral process,” he told AFP.

The activists are now calling for the creation of an SADC electoral tribunal to help “promote electoral democracy in the region through internationally accepted standards of fair and credible elections,” Nyoni said.

A 600-strong SADC observer mission judged Zimbabwe’s vote free and peaceful, but has not yet commented on its fairness.

SADC chairwoman Banda told reporters the bloc was still waiting for final reports from its observers and from the African Union before it can declare the election “fair and credible”.

Botswana, the only country in the region to call the vote into question, had vowed to lobby the summit for an audit of the election.

However President Ian Khama held talks with Mugabe on the fringes of the summit, and decided he would stand guided by SADC’s ultimate decision, sources close to the talks said.

The two-day summit also discussed the political stand-off on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar and the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Madagascar has been suspended from SADC since strongman Andry Rajoelina toppled Marc Ravalomanana in 2009.

The bloc hailed a “bold” decision by Madagascar’s new electoral authorities taken Saturday to bar Rajoelina and other disputed contenders from running for president.

That move paves the way for elections which have been stalled since July by the dispute.

On DR Congo, the summit resolved to call for an “urgent” international conference on the troubled Great Lakes region.

A quarter-million people have fled their homes in the region since last year when the M23 rebel group took up arms against government troops in the mineral-rich but chronically unstable east of the country.

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1 COMMENT

  1. The evil that sanctions breed/are they justified or not?
    ARTICLE BY NJABULO
    The crux of the matter is that sanctions are draconian to any nation, because they breed nothing but retrogression to the economy of that country .They affect all facets of our lives negatively. They breed poverty, diseases and death to the ordinary citizens of any country[equals to disguised genocide.]So, it is only people who are insane and irrational in their decision making that advocate the imposition of sanctions against any state. There are other better ways of solving the political dilemma in any country. In Rhodesia ,sanctions were imposed to the Smith regime, but there were no remarkable positive results. By the same token they were imposed in SA during the apartheid era, again there were no notable positive effective results. This means they are not an effective tool to counteract any unwanted political situation obtaining in any state. They are therefore, inhuman as they degrade the lives of any nation. In a nutshell they aim at violating the human rights of a people of any chosen state. In this sense , the sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe[legal wise ]they are illegitimate . The demerits of sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe far outweigh their merits. Our people died of cholera, hunger ,aids and other diseases due to lack of medication .So ,can any person of normal fortitude declare them legal.? .
    It is so surprising that the UN and other African states are in the helm of supporting the maintenance of sanctions against the people of Zimbabwe. Whereas ,in actual fact the UN and the OAU ,to which some of these African countries identify or are affiliated, advocate the eradication[or alleviation] of poverty ,disease and the violation of human rights in any state. How can all these be implemented in Zimbabwe while there are sanctions which actual block them from taking place?.
    Whereas ,in actual fact the sanctions in question are not directly aimed at the politicians ,but rather to the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. By imposing sanctions against Zimbabwe ,the imposers of these sanctions are actually aiming them at ordinary people of Zimbabwe. The reason being that the sanctions in discussion are aimed at denying the ordinary people of Zimbabwe of basic necessities and other necessities .The result is that the ordinary people are plunged into poverty and death as epitomised by the outbreak of cholera in Zimbabwe. Is this not being cruel to the ordinary people of Zimbabwe.?.
    There are so many people that are apolitical that are/have been affected by these evil illegal sanctions. Many people have left/are leaving the country because of lack of certain necessary commodities that cannot reach Zimbabwe because of sanctions. Some countries that have been major suppliers of necessary commodities have cut trade links with Zimbabwe. They have been obligated by international calls for sanctions against Zimbabwe .Is this not a violation of the human rights of the people of Zimbabwe?.Oh ,yes! It is because the human rights law forbids this. These sanctions have militated against the once good life of our people. If sanctions had not been imposed against Zimbabwe ,many people who died due to a deficiency of medication ,could have survived. It is this that has prompted me to write this letter but not the political motive.
    To this end ,the illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe should be lifted in order to improve the lives of ordinary people of Zimbabwe. Many Zimbabweans have become destitute in other countries because of these evil illegal sanctions. The imposers of these sanctions have to draw a line of demarcation between politics and the lives of the ordinary people of Zimbabwe as these sanctions do not in any way or form affect politicians. Some people may argue that politics is the reason behind the imposition of the sanctions in question ,but how can they push someone out of power? Who in the entire world was pushed out of power by sanctions?.Turkey is still a sovereign state despite sanctions that were imposed against her for the occupation of an enclave which is part of Cyprus. She has not been admitted to the European Union. Kofi Annani in his capacity as a UN agent, out rightly failed to resolve the Turkish –Cyprus problem ,through sanctions. The EU in its capacity as a custodian of the EU LAW which is supreme over all EU member states and EU countries which are non affiliated to it ,failed to resolve the Turkish-Cyprus issue using sanctions. Is it an issue of self determination that should come to play or sanctions? .And one thing for certain the people cannot be coerced or put under duress of political circumstances to vote for any particular political party that may seem to be the best to change the political milieu in Zimbabwe. The people of Turkey still vote for their leaders who are resilient in pursuing the occupation of the Cyprus enclave. Is it a question of patriotism or is it a question of knowing to discern between the justification of the imposition of sanctions or the evil that they breed?[have your say] [This article is not in favour of any political party .but its all about the truth about the evil of the sanctions that have made Zimbabwe to be bedevilled with intermittent problems ]
    BY NJABULO[OPINION IS FREE]

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