By Tererai Karimakwenda
22 October, 2010
Members of the European parliament on Thursday passed a resolution which called on Robert Mugabe to drop the planned evictions of about 20,000 people from Hatcliffe Extension settlement outside Harare. Residents there were being forced to pay exorbitant lease renewal fees, which the resolution said the residents “simply have no means of paying.”
The vote was spearheaded by MEP Geoffrey Van Orden, who heads the European Parliament's campaign for freedom and democratic change in Zimbabwe. The pending evictions were used as an example of continuing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and provided a case against Mugabe’s demands that the EU should remove the targeted sanctions against him and close associates.
The MEPs also focused on the state of the coalition government and concluded that: “Robert Mugabe and his close supporters continue to be a stumbling block in the process of political and economic reconstruction and reconciliation in Zimbabwe, plundering as they do its economic resources for their own benefit.”
The development was a blow to South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, who earlier this month addressed the parliamentarians in Brussels and pleaded for a removal of the targeted measures on behalf of Mugabe and ZANU PF. This week South Africa also made it clear that they would use their position as a member of the UN Security Council to vote against any sanctions on Zimbabwe.
But the outspoken Van Orden told SW Radio Africa this week that the “restrictive measures” by the EU are not sanctions and they do not hurt ordinary Zimbabweans. Instead they stop Mugabe and his close associates from going on shopping sprees in European cities and block them from hiding their stolen wealth in European banks.
Van Orden said he strongly believes that until there is real change in Zimbabwe and the people are enjoying true freedom and democratic space, the restrictive measures on Mugabe and his cronies should remain in place.