S.Africa: Zuma must take stand on Zimbabwe – DA

Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Athol Trollip on Monday urged President Jacob Zuma to use his upcoming official visit to the United Kingdom to take a decisive stand on Zimbabwe. 

Zuma is scheduled to leave for the UK on Monday, and Zimbabwe is expected to be high on the agenda.  Trollip said Zuma needed to focus on two key issues – President Robert Mugabe’s plans for the “indigenisation” of foreign firms and South Africa’s stance on sanctions.

The indigenisation of foreign firms in Zimbabwe meant they had to transfer 51% of ownership to local shareholders, and this was extremely problematic. 

To date, the Zimbabwean economy had been decimated by Mugabe’s various policies, from land redistribution to the way in which he had destroyed foreign investment. 

The primary reason for this was that he had used his access to the State’s wealth to shore up his position and distribute patronage to those aligned to him.  This most recent proposal appeared on face value to serve a similar purpose and there was absolutely no evidence that Zimbabwe was capable of properly managing such a massive share, or, indeed, any share, of the Zimbabwean market. 

If Mugabe was serious about properly managing the Zimbabwean economy, he needed to reform his policies.  The DA’s roadmap for Zimbabwe proposed fresh elections, but even if that was not an immediate undertaking, Mugabe needed to demonstrate a commitment to democracy and that the State’s wealth would not be used for political purposes. 

On sanctions, Trollip said the global political agreement between the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Zanu-PF, which was meant to address the numerous crises facing Zimbabwe, had not resulted in any meaningful change by the country’s administration. 

“There therefore remains no sufficient political reason for the sanctions imposed on Mugabe to be lifted.”  “In the light of few real steps taken by the Zimbabwean administration towards truly democratic governance, President Zuma needs to support the European community’s decision to reconstitute sanctions against President Mugabe.” 

South Africa’s strong ties with Zimbabwe made it well-placed to encourage the country’s attempts at political renewal.  If Zuma supported lifting sanctions against Mugabe, as reports indicated, then such a position was “downright hypocritical, given the outspoken stance he took on Zimbabwe in the run-up to his election”. 

“This shift in policy position is the sign of a man buckling under political pressure.”  Zuma needed to support the European community’s decision to renew its sanctions against Mugabe, discuss the effectiveness of such sanctions, and seriously consider South Africa adopting similar measures, Trollip said.

Source: www.news24.com, 20100302

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