The propagandists of Zanu-PF have been staggeringly successful over the
sanctions issue, persuading millions of Africans, and many of the
continent’s heads of state, that Western measures targeted at the
regime are in fact against the country as a whole, and contribute to
the destruction of its economy.
It is a misrepresentation that for years has served Mr Mugabe well in
the corridors of power from Cairo to Pretoria, and remains in place
despite last week’s agreement by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change to go into a unity government.
South Africa’s ANC government has long been accused of being too soft
on Mr Mugabe, and Frank Chikane, director-general in the president’s
office in Pretoria, said that the MDC’s decision now "requires them to
call for the end of sanctions".
"We expect Europe and the US and other countries to stop the sanctions," he added.
As leaders of the African Union gathered in Addis Ababa for a summit,
the 53-nation body’s executive council adopted a resolution calling for
"the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe to help ease the
humanitarian situation in the country".
Jean Ping, the head of the organisation, said: "Imagine that you don’t
help Zimbabwe, who will be blamed? Everybody is expecting that today,
because Tsvangirai is going to lead the economy and everything, that
the economy should recover. So if you don’t do that who will be blamed
by the population?"
But in reality the European Union’s measures amount only to asset
freezes and travel bans on named individuals and companies, a list of
which was expanded last week. They are designed not to have any impact
on ordinary Zimbabweans.
In Harare a source close to the MDC signalled that it would not be calling for the sanctions to be lifted.
"Sanctions are a part of American, British and European foreign policy
and it is not our position to dictate to them what they do," he said.
London and Washington, which both said in December that they had lost
faith in the power-sharing process, have given the news of the
coalition only a lukewarm reception, giving warning that it must prove
it is working before reconstruction aid begins to flow.
As a result concerns have been raised that even once in government the
MDC will not have the means to effect change in people’s lives, but the
source suggested that money would come in directly to ministries and
local authorities, rather than through the central government where it
could disappear into Zanu-PF’s network of patronage and corruption.
"There’s a political will within the donor community to put the people
first," he said. "I think they are going to explore the other avenues
that are available."