By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
23 June, 2014
The European Union’s ambassador to Zimbabwe has continued to receive strong criticism for comments he made recently, supporting the Mugabe regime and blasting civil society for attacking the ageing leader’s government.
The latest salvo against Aldo Dell’Ariccia came from the London based pressure group the Zimbabwe Vigil, who described him as a “loud-mouthed diplomat” who “showed his colours” when he said there is no leadership crisis in Zimbabwe.
Dell’Ariccia made the comments at a meeting in Harare last week, when he blasted civil society for their critical attitude towards ZANU PF, saying: “I have the impression that you are a little bit anchored in the past where instead of seeing NGOs one perceives AGOs- anti-government organisations”.
The Vigil dubbed the EU ambassador “Mugabe’s E.U. cheerleader”, and dismissed the fact that he had tried to qualify his comments by saying the words had been “taken out of context”.
In a statement on Monday, the Vigil group said a meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) had voted to send a letter to Dell’Ariccia’s boss, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, complaining of his “outrageous intervention” in Zimbabwe’s domestic affairs.
The letter reads in part: “It appears to us that the EU is bending over backwards to embrace Mugabe despite his refusal to hold free and fair elections or make any reforms to correct the abuses which prompted the EU to adopt its targeted measures against him and his cronies.”
Vigil coordinator Dennis Benton said: “People are disturbed at the attitude of the European Union in general. Ephraim Tapa who was the convenor told the ZAF meeting that the EU was trying to normalize the situation in Zimbabwe, trying to pretend there was no crisis there and this fits with comments made by Mr. Dell’Ariccia.”
He said the comments were made at a meeting organized by the Crisis Coalition, to discuss the economy and, as such, he had no right to “preach” to the NGOs and to the political opposition about the country’s domestic affairs. Benton also said his political analysis was faulty.
Benton added that the EU envoy was supportive of ZANU PF’s ZimAsset economic blueprint, which he described as a “pie in the sky” policy with no chance of being put into effect unless they obtain billions of dollars from “some outside source”.
He said the group had written to Ashton in the past when the EU decided to “suspend” the targeted sanctions imposed on the regime. This time the Vigil wants to challenge the EU policy of “normalizing” the situation in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Action Forum was formed in October last year at a meeting of the All-Party Stakeholders in London. This was after the Mugabe regime announced a “landslide” victory over the opposition MDC-T in the harmonized poll, and the aim was to find a way forward in the wake of another “stolen” election.