By Tichaona Sibanda
17 September 2010
The South African government will next week lobby for the removal of targeted sanctions against Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF officials, during the 65th session of the United Nations in New York.
This was confirmed by the International Relations and Co-operation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, in Cape Town on Thursday. She told journalists the targeted sanctions were not helping Zimbabwe.
‘Whenever we get an opportunity, we will be lobbying for the removal of these restrictions against certain individuals or institutions in Zimbabwe, because we think it’s not necessarily helping in making sure Zimbabwe moves forward,’ she said.
The week long annual UN General Assembly begins next week Tuesday. Mugabe, as he has done for the last 30 years, will lead Zimbabwe’s delegation to the summit.
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediator on Zimbabwe and this is not the first time the South Africa has tried to lobby for the removal of the sanctions. On a recent visit to the UK Zuma tried unsuccessfully to have the sanctions eased.
Political analyst Luke Zunga told SW Radio Africa on Friday it was a mis-call by the South Africans to try and lobby the UN, because it won’t work. He said the South Africans should remember they are the same country that has over the years blocked all efforts to put Zimbabwe on the agenda of UN discussions.
‘I remember their ambassador Dumisani Khumalo being fanatical in vetoeing attempts by western countries to impose UN targeted sanctions on the Mugabe regime, claiming the crisis in Zimbabwe was an internal matter,’ Zunga said.
‘Last year the South Africans even blocked a motion to allow the United Nations to get a consensus on how to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis. If the South Africans successfully blocked discussions on serious human rights violations, what makes them think the UN will be amenable to listen to their pleas on sanctions when rights violations are still widespread in Zimbabwe,’ he added.
Mugabe angrily accuses MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai of not doing enough to have the sanctions lifted. The Prime Minister hits back by accusing Mugabe of stalling progress on political reforms.
Both the United States government and the European Union, who imposed the targeted sanctions, have expressed concern over the slow pace at which the unity government is making progress, particularly in the area of reforms that will allow free and fair elections. They have always said that when real reforms were evident, targeted sanctions would be lifted.