Zimbabwe

No role for spouses at summit, EU tells Zim

2014-03-26 14:54
Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe (AP)

Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe (AP)

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Cape Town – EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell'Ariccia has reportedly said that only those with a role to play in meetings at the forthcoming EU-Africa Summit in Belgium next week had been invited.

Dell'Ariccia said this following a report by The Herald on Tuesday that the European Union had denied President Robert Mugabe's wife Grace, a visa to allow her to travel alongside her husband.

A Sapa report on Wednesday said the Zimbabwe government indicated it would boycott the summit if Mugabe's wife was not granted a visa to travel with him.

Earlier reports quoted Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba as saying it was "strange" that the EU had not extended an invitation to the first lady, adding "What God has put together the EU is trying to separate".

Restrictive measures

According to New Zimbabwe.com, Dell'Ariccia maintained "we have invited those with a role to play in the meetings, and the programmes of the meetings do not have any role for spouses".

Dell'Ariccia said since Mugabe's wife was under restrictive measures, the host country (Belgium) had to seek a green light for her to attend.

Mugabe and his wife are under an EU travel ban imposed in 2002, after a government crackdown on the opposition and the eviction of white farmers from agricultural land.

The EU had waived the visa ban on Mugabe, who is the vice-chairperson of the AU, saying it was not bound by the ban when hosting large international conferences.

"Caretaker"

Mugabe, who turned 90 this year and is reportedly suffering from failing health, normally travels with his wife on most trips abroad.

During his birthday celebrations in February, Mugabe described Grace as his "caretaker", hinting how important she had become in his life.

The summit is expected to focus on strategic priorities under the Joint Africa-EU Strategy.

The strategy seeks to enhance political co-operation and partnerships at all levels.

- News24

Read more on:    eu  |  eu-au summit  |  grace mugabe  |  robert mugabe  |  aldo dell'ariccia  |  george charamba  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa
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