European engagement with ZANU PF slammed as “travesty of justice”

Danish Embassy Charge d’Affaires Erik Brogger Rasmussen

 

By Alex Bell

SW Radio Africa
20 May 2014

The ongoing efforts by European nations to re-engage with ZANU PF have been described as a “travesty of justice”, because they don’t take into account either the past or current destructive policies of Robert Mugabe’s party

Most recently, ZANU PF dispatched Information Minister Jonathan Moyo to meet with the Danish Embassy Charge d’Affaires Erik Brogger Rasmussen, to discuss ‘normalising’ relations. Moyo, described has the party’s chief propagandist, reportedly sought to engage Denmark in funding the compensation of former commercial farmers, whose land was seized during the ZANU PF land grab campaign.

According to the Herald newspaper Rasmussen indicated that Denmark would engage other Nordic countries to explore compensation.

“He said this after Professor Moyo highlighted that Denmark, if possible, could be an honest broker in engaging other countries that are willing to fund compensation but are not prepared to be seen to be climbing down,” a source quoted by the Herald said.

The NewsDay newspaper quoted an official who said: “Minister Moyo told the Danish ambassador that Zimbabwe was willing to compensate white farmers on immovable properties if Denmark can mediate the deal with other Western countries to fund the exercise through developmental organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme.”

Denmark is the latest European nation to move forward with its re-engagement efforts, since ZANU PF ‘won’ a highly disputed election last July. This policy of re-engagement has been justified by European analysts and research groups as the ‘best possible way forward’, despite widespread criticism.

Last week, researchers at the London based Chatham House think tank said that re-engagement “is the only game in town,” while launching their report on why normalising relations with ZANU PF was needed. Panelists at that report launch acknowledged the serious human rights, rule of law and investment security issues that still exist in Zimbabwe, but argued a pragmatic, diplomatic way forward was needed.

Ephraim Tapa, a UK based Zimbabwean activists and a coordinator with the protest group the Zimbabwe Vigil, said the European engagement position was a “betrayal.”

“Efforts of re-engagement by Denmark on the surface may appear a welcome gesture. But I think such a move may actually ask or gloss over the gross injustices of the violent, chaotic land reform. People lost their lives, livelihood and property, all because of the greed of ZANU PF,” Tapa told SW Radio Africa.

He warned that Denmark was also undermining an international court ruling made by the Southern African human rights Tribunal in 2008, which ordered the ZANU PF regime to compensate farmers.

“Their re-engagement agenda overlooks all those judgments and overlooks the need for redress and an equitable, sustainable land programme which takes into account national priorities of food security, economic stabilisation, employment, and the needs of the former land owners,” Tapa said.

He added: “Any re-engagement that does not take all this into consideration is a betrayal of the people of Zimbabwe.”

Tapa continued that the European position has shifted from a human rights centered approach, to one that is focused on the profitability of its relations.

“They are saying ‘let’s forget about the injustices’ even if people are being affected. They are saying ‘let’s forget about the people’. I think it is a realisation from the West that while they were previously chasing a human rights agenda, they have lost out economically to China. They are now prepared to sacrifice everything else and gloss over everything else, which I believe is a travesty of justice,” Tapa said.

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