SADC vows Mugabe will not hijack EU-Africa summit

The Southern African Development Community has issued a statement in which it said that the Zimbabwe crisis will not be allowed to hijack the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon, according to a report in South Africa's Business Day.

SADC executive director, Tomaz Salmoao is reported to have said that the “SADC will not accept to come to Lisbon to discuss Zimbabwe because the summit is not about Zimbabwe but about relations between the EU and Africa.”

The presence of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe at the Portuguese-led summit has been the centre of months of angry disputes between member EU states, especially the United Kingdom, and Africa. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has reiterated his refusal to attend if Mugabe shows up at the summit to be held on December 8-9.

The last EU summit was held in Cairo, Egypt in 2000 but attempts to convene again were abandoned because of disputes over Mugabe, who is accused of human rights abuses and recking the Zimbabwean economy.

After the 2000 summit Mugabe launched a campaign of repression against a new pro-democracy opposition and began the violent invasion of 5 million hectares of mostly white-owned farms. Shortly after this the EU, US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Switzerland imposed “targeted” sanctions barring senior members of Mugabe’s ruling party, the Zanu-PF from travelling to, or investing in, their countries.

├é┬áIndependently, nearly all Western governments have stopped bilateral government-to-government aid to Zimbabwe because, they said, their money was either abused or squandered by Mugabe’s regime.

The International Monetary Fund cancelled lending to Zimbabwe in 1988 when it discovered that Mugabe had diverted development loans to pay for the Zimbabwean army fighting in the civil war in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Western governments continue to deliver emergency aid in the form of food or medicines. About four million people are due to be fed by the United Nations in the next few months following the collapse of Zimbabwe’s agricultural industry.

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