EU out of touch?

Amid coup threats, a deadlock on the new constitution, sickening dithering on the diaspora vote and military dabbling in partisan politics, it was incredible to note that the EU’s Catherine Ashton recently “hailed ongoing political reforms in Zimbabwe”.

“The EU recognised progress to date and encouraged the reform process to continue in the same positive direction, allowing progress towards normalisation of relations,” said a statement from her office.

Reports said Ashton fell short of pledging a quick easing of targeted sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his allies in talks with a delegation from Zimbabwe on Thursday – leaving many wondering what charm offensive had won her over.

What progress is she talking about? On what basis is the EU high representative making such a statement? Where is the irrefutable evidence of that perceived progress? Is Ashton talking about Zimbabwe?

The fact that a senior EU official speaking on condition of anonymity said progress was “fairly slow” suggests that Ashton may have been over generous with her comments. She is probably out of touch with the situation on the ground.

Ashton was not expected to say what she said in view of current events in Zimbabwe. For instance, the open declaration last Tuesday of allegiance to Zanu (PF) by ZDF Chief of Staff Major General Gen Martin Chedondo and his encouragement of the military to accept no other party may have been deliberately made to spite the Brussels talks.

Furthermore, Zanu (PF)’s sustained attacks on COPAC, the draft constitution and the party’s opposition to the diaspora vote – otherwise being referred to as Dual Citizenship – is sufficient evidence of lack of progress.

In fact, very few exiles have become citizens abroad due to practical reasons including documentation and their families back home.

Obviously Zanu (PF) is afraid of being confined to the dustbin of history if the estimated 4 million exiled Zimbabweans are allowed to vote in the forthcoming referendum and presidential elections.

Zanu (PF) is therefore more concerned about Mugabe’s future and the prospect of prosecution – especially in the wake of the recent ruling by the South African High Court allowing the arrest of Zimbabwean

perpetrators of human rights abuse. The safest place for Mugabe and his allies would be Western countries once the targeted sanctions are removed hence the obsession with their removal.

Ashton appears to have overlooked the fact that there was no unanimity in the delegation to Brussels. It included Zanu (PF)’s justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, MDC-T’s energy minister Elton Mangoma and MDC Ncube’s regional integration minister Priscilla Misihairambwi.

While Chinamasa insisted: “We spoke with one voice on the issue of sanctions. We pointed out that the sanctions had no justification and should not remain,” the MDC-T reiterated the need for full implementation of the GPA before targeted sanctions are lifted.

Meanwhile, the Mugabe regime has capitalised on Ashton’s ‘gaffe’ by writing headlines in the state owned media such as “EU satisfied with GPA implementation” The Herald, 12 May 2012.

It appears someone at the EU will have to do some damage control before the international body loses credibility on its Zimbabwe foreign policy.

Post published in: News
  1. Mpumi

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