JOHANNESBURG — South Africa wants Western nations to lift economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and is pressing Harare’s
power-sharing government to speed up reforms needed to bring about elections in the troubled country.
Zimbabwe has been plunged into poverty due to what analysts have said is economic mismanagement by entrenched President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party, hit with sanctions for suspected human rights abuses and vote-rigging.
“It’s not just Zimbabwe that’s saying the sanctions are not working. The entire continent is saying that,” Lindiwe Zulu, South African President Jacob Zuma’s top foreign policy advisor, said yesterday.
Analysts say the sanctions have been exploited by Mugabe for his political purposes, blaming them for his party’s economic blunders that have caused what once was one of Africa’s richest nations to now be among its poorest. Zulu is part of a Southern African Development Community initiative led by Zuma aimed at ending the political turmoil in Zimbabwe and holding free and fair elections by next year. Mugabe (88) has ruled the country since its independence from Britain in 1980. He was forced into a power-sharing deal with rival and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, after a disputed 2008 poll marred by Zanu PF violence and intimidation.
“Now the challenge for us is to speed up the process and have a result that is lasting, or to make sure whatever decisions are implemented, are things that the Zimbabweans themselves must honour,” Zulu said.
South Africa is the country most affected by turmoil in Zimbabwe. Millions flooded across their border due to Zimbabwean election violence in 2008, straining South Africa’s schools, housing and health services.
Pretoria has been criticised for not pushing Mugabe hard enough, but Zulu said forcing change would not solve its neighbour’s underlying problems or bring a stable democracy.