Thursday, 5 February 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 Zimbabwe dismisses EU travel gesture

President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party is headed for a split after senior officials fired last year indicated that they were preparing to challenge their ouster in court. AFP PHOTO | 
President Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe has dismissed moves by the European Union to lift a travel ban on President Robert Mugabe as inconsequential, saying it was an attempt to hoodwink Africa. AFP PHOTO |    

Zimbabwe has dismissed moves by the European Union to lift a travel ban on President Robert Mugabe as inconsequential, saying it was an attempt to hoodwink Africa.
The EU Wednesday announced that it was suspending the ban imposed on the 90 year-old leader for a year following his weekend election as the chairperson for the African Union (AU).
President Mugabe and his inner circle were slapped with an EU travel embargo and asset freeze in 2002 for alleged human rights violations and electoral fraud.  
Other Western countries such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada followed suit accusing the long time ruler of stifling   democracy.
However, the EU has been easing the sanctions since 2009   when President Mugabe formed a short-lived inclusive go
“Our position as Zanu PF remains that all sanctions imposed on President Mugabe as head of state and citizen of Zimbabwe be removed unconditionally,” Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo told State media on Wednesday.  
“Any effort to hoodwink the continent is futile.”
Information minister Jonathan Moyo said the AU post had given the EU an opportunity to make a climb-down on Zimbabwe as the sanctions were not justified.
President Mugabe accuses Western countries of using the sanctions to try and topple him from power because of their opposition to his policies meant to empower black Zimbabweans.
He blames Zimbabwe’s spectacular economic collapse on the sanctions but the EU says the country’s problems are caused by poor governance. Last year, the Zimbabwean leader, who turns 91 on February 21, boycotted the EU-Africa summit after Belgium refused to grant his wife a visa.   
The EU is from this month to resume direct aid to the Zimbabwean government after a 13 year old freeze due to the frosty relations between Harare and Brussels.
Announcing the latest move yesterday, European Commission spokeswoman Catherine Ray said: “This ban will be lifted when he is travelling under his African Union chairmanship capacity.’’
Asked if that would also apply to Mugabe’s wife if she accompanied him, Ms Ray said she would have to check.
The EU issued a special invitation for Mugabe to attend the EU-Africa summit in Brussels last year but he turned it down in disgust when his wife Grace was denied a visa to travel with him.
The European Union hit Mugabe and his government with an arms embargo, plus a travel ban and asset freeze in 2002, citing serious rights violations.
The EU has recently eased some of the measures in the hope of normalising relations with Harare but Mugabe, at 90 Africa’s oldest head of state, and his wife remain on the banned list.
Mugabe is well known for his uncompromising stance towards the West and the colonising powers he blames for many of Africa’s ills. Taking up the one-year rotating AU chairmanship last week, Mugabe said he cared little for what the West might say.
Mugabe said that he and his country had been under sanctions for over 10 years. “If they want to continue it’s up to them but these sanctions are wrong.”
At the same time he added: “If Europe comes in the spirit to cooperate and not the spirit to control us and control our ways, they will be very welcome.”

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