West wants Mugabe to back up his words with action

2009-10-09 15:38

The West has refused to take at face value President Robert

Mugabe’s overtures for “fresh, friendly and co-operative relations”, demanding

that the Zimbabwean leader support his words with action before aid is

unlocked.

Zimbabwe needs at least $10 billion (about R76 billion) to recover

from decade-long economic decay that has reduced the once prosperous nation to a

basket case.

Europe and America have promised to come to Zimbabwe’s aid if

Mugabe abandons his authoritarian rule and brings democracy and the rule of law

back into the country.

Mugabe refuses, however, to accept responsibility for Zimbabwe’s

economic decay, insisting the country’s misfortunes are due to the West’s

“illegal sanctions” and their quest to “recolonise Zimbabwe”.

Mugabe appeared to soften his stance this week, though, calling for

“fresh and friendly” selations with “all those countries that have been hostile

to us”.

The US said on Wednesday that Mugabe’s overture should be supported

by deeds.

“We encourage Mr Mugabe to show his commitment to positive

relations with the US by fully implementing the global political agreement which

he signed in September 2008,” said US State Department spokesman Ian

Kelly.

Mugabe must also repeal all draconian laws that have robbed

Zimbabweans of many rights and should bring to an end political arrests, media

restrictions and his autocratic tendencies, said the US.

“What we would like to see is some real concrete action,” Kelly

said.

The European Union (EU) has responded to Mugabe’s overture for

better ties in the same manner.

Sweden, the current head of the EU, says there has been very little

evidence of Mugabe’s intention to forge a “fresh and friendly” relationship with

the bloc.

Sten Rylander, the Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe, says Mugabe

needs to do much more to prove his stated intentions for reengagement. He said

it was worrying that recent developments in some areas of concern indicated

deterioration in relations.

“We are seeing strange developments in the appointments of

commissions and boards of media organisations. We are also receiving reports of

more violence and more farm disruptions. Such actions do not go along with what

the President said on Tuesday,” said Rylander.

Mugabe is widely accused of refusing to implement in full the

political agreement that he signed with opposition Movement for Democratic

Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai when they formed an inclusive government

in February.

Tsvangirai has complained many times about Mugabe’s insincerity,

but the 85-year-old leader has continued to make provocative unilateral

appointments to various key positions.

Mugabe last week brought his loyal military men onto various media

boards in an apparent move to further tighten his grip on the Fourth Estate,

despite calls for positive media reforms.

More farm invasions have been reported and harassment of former

opposition members continues.

Tsvangirai said his party had fulfilled its part of the accord’s

obligations and he blamed Mugabe for failing to play his part.


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