Sisulu visits EU to raise Zim profile-(15-02-07)

BY KJW
LONDON - Elinor Sisulu looks exhausted when I meet her in her hotel room. She had been in the UK for three days en route to the Caribbean where she is taking up a three- month fellowship with Centre for Gender and Development Studies, University of West Indies.
While in London she h


as been doing advocacy work on the Zimbabwe situation, meeting NGO’s and Zimbabwean groups and giving interviews. She is about to leave for France to lobby Chirac not to invite Mugabe to the French Africa Summit and to insist France does not break ranks with other EU members over renewing the travel bans shortly to be decided upon.
Sisulu is the well-known author of the biography of South African liberation icons, Walter and Albertina Sisulu, and has had a long history of advocacy work on Zimbabwean issues. Based in South Africa, she works with the Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe in focusing on regional advocacy. Sisulu says that a lot of her work is “analysing how Zimbabwe is a regional problem. Especially since Operation Murambatsvina, the situation has become more urgent”.
The biggest problem is trying to convince other African leaders of the need to take action on Zimbabwe, particularly true in her home country. “I wouldn’t describe SA policy as quiet diplomacy,” she says. “They are very supportive of the Mugabe regime and they have worked hard to stave off pressure from the West.”
She says the South African government sees the problem in Zimbabwe as a political issue between the MDC and Zanu (PF). “They see the solution in Zimbabwe as a reformed Zanu (PF), perhaps without Mugabe. Obviously it’s much more complex, they have the wrong diagnosis therefore they cannot have the right solution,” she says.
Sisulu says it is very easy for African leaders to cast themselves as “victims of the West’s imperialism” given the situation in Iraq. However “their failure to condemn Operation Murambatsvina is unacceptable”.
Sisulu feels Zimbabwean groups abroad have an important part to play in lobbying the international community into action. However she says that they need to have “more clarity” on what they are asking the international community to do.
“Many say that South Africa should pull the plug on Mugabe, what does that mean?” she asks. “They are not going to cut electricity to Zimbabwe, for example.”
She says groups should be demanding that “SA acknowledge the magnitude of the crisis. Human rights violations must be recognised and then Zimbabweans must be granted asylum in South Africa. They should stop validating the elections. They must stop opposing Human Rights Sanctions against Zimbabwe – that makes more sense to me. SA must not replace Mugabe with someone else, they must tell the truth about what is happening in Zimbabwe”.
During the course of her three month fellowship in Jamaica, Sisulu intends to investigate “Afro-Caribbean links and why it is in the contemporary period that those links are not stronger on a people to people basis”.


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