UN Security Council to be briefed on Zimbabwe Thursday

The United Nations Security Council will be briefed on the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe on Thursday, but the discussion will not touch on the political environment.

According to South Africa’s Foreign Affairs chief director for UN issues, Xolisa Mabhongo, it will be difficult for the discussion to focus on politics because this was not on the agenda. His remarks appeared to confirm reports that South Africa and Russia, who are members of the 15-member group, again blocked a wider briefing by the Security Council on the Zimbabwean crisis.

On Monday United States and European diplomats held consultations in which they sought to have the UN address the issue of their diplomats being attacked in Zimbabwe. Russia and South Africa argued the move would undermine a planned visit by UN Assistant Secretary General for political affairs Haile Menkerios, who is due to travel to Zimbabwe.  It’s now the second time in 3 months that South Africa has blocked discussion on Zimbabwe in the Security Council. In April South Africa and China combined to block the placing of Zimbabwe on the agenda of the Council, despite unprecedented levels of violence engulfing the country.

Speaking from the Union Buildings in Pretoria, which house South African government offices, Mabhongo argued there were, other avenues where the issue of Zimbabwe is being addressed,’ a reference to the SADC initiative led by President Thabo Mbeki. But Mabhongo’s statement that Zimbabwe does not pose, in our view, at the moment, a threat to international peace and security which is the mandate of the Security Council,’ drew stinging criticism from commentators. Many cited the xenophobic attacks in South Africa as having been caused by a huge influx of political and economic refugees from Zimbabwe.

Over 3 million Zimbabweans are thought to be in South Africa and this, combined with migrants from other neighbouring countries, created the recipe for the barbaric attacks that rocked the country last month. Other regional countries are also feeling the heat from Zimbabwe’s crisis. Reports this week indicate that Zambians are increasingly becoming resentful of Zimbabweans flocking there for refuge. Other countries like Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana have also absorbed a huge number of Zimbabweans.

Meanwhile Lindiwe Mazibuko from South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance party said South Africa’s blocking of Security Council discussions on Zimbabwe exposed Mbeki’s foreign policy of denialism’. She said the government had also used its seat on the Security Council to block resolutions on countries like Burma, Sudan, Belarus and Iran. Mazibuko said the policy was putting innocent people in jeopardy by ignoring their rights to free and fair elections. She called for the deployment of UN, SADC and AU monitors in Zimbabwe to supervise the run-off and said strong action was needed if Mugabe’s government continued to fail to abide by agreed electoral standards. 

SWRadio Africa

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