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Zimbabwe: Govt raps G8 sanctions call
Posted: Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Herald Reporter
July 09, 2008
The Herald

The Group of Eight yesterday ignored African and Russian calls not to impose more sanctions on Zimbabwe and said they would put in place "financial measures" against the country in a move that has been described by Government as smacking of "international racism".

The G8 resolution made in Japan yesterday claimed Zimbabwe's Government was "illegitimate" despite the fact that President Mugabe polled over two million votes in the June 27 presidential run-off election against MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai's less than 250 000 votes.

Though they avoided the word sanctions in their statement on Zimbabwe, they referred to "financial measures", and vowed to press the United Nations to take action against the country. "We will take further steps, inter alia introducing financial and other measures against those individuals responsible for the violence," they said. They added that they wanted Government to "work with the opposition", albeit on the basis of the March 29 harmonised elections that did not produce a winner in the presidential race.

The G8 resolution also seeks to subvert South African President Thabo Mbeki's mediation between Zimbabwe's main political parties by imposing another mediator – who they called a special UN envoy – in the inter-party talks. The Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, yesterday slammed the decision as an attempt to override the will of the people who voted on June 27, as well as that of African heads of state who endorsed President Mbeki's mediation at last week's African Union Summit held in Egypt.

"The G8 has refused to listen to Africa. A number of African countries have tried to talk to them and make them understand the African Union's position on Zimbabwe but they have disregarded it all. "African leaders who were invited to the G8 Summit, such as President (Abdoulaye) Wade of Senegal and President (Jakaya) Kikwete of Tanzania, said they could not support sanctions but they (the G8) have gone ahead and passed a resolution calling for sanctions at the UN.

"For them to say that Zimbabwe's Government and President Mugabe's election are not legitimate is an attempt to impose a government on the people of Zimbabwe against their will. Our Constitution required that we hold a run-off and we did that accordingly. Morgan Tsvangirai probably did not understand what a run-off was and instead ran off to the Dutch Embassy. "But the people went out and voted, including for Tsvangirai, and President Mugabe won and has been sworn in as the Head of State," he said. "As such," Cde Ndlovu said, "the G8 resolution is ultimately of no consequence.

Nowhere in international law is there provision for a group of countries to sit down as a private club and decide the legitimacy of governments in sovereign states. This is international racism." On the matter of President Mbeki's mediation, Cde Ndlovu said Zimbabwe would proceed with the South African leader's facilitation as resolved by the AU and Sadc. "This issue is a non-starter.

Why do they want to impose another mediator? President Mbeki has proved his mettle as an African statesman par excellence and so we will follow the AU and Sadc position on this." At the AU Summit in Egypt, African heads of state resolved that President Mbeki should continue with his mediation efforts without unnecessary meddling from outsiders.

Seven leaders from the continent invited to the G8 Summit had earlier tried to impress on the United States, Britain and their allies that sanctions would not help Zimbabwe in any way. President Wade of Senegal yesterday held meetings with some G8 leaders in attempt to make them understand Africa's position. He told AFP yesterday that he had asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in separate meetings for the G8 leaders at least to delay sanctions if they insist on imposing them to allow for dialogue among Zimbabwean political parties.

Earlier, Presidents Mbeki and Kikwete had also done the same thing but their calls were ignored. Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said elements of the US draft were "quite excessive" and clearly "in conflict with the notion of sovereignty" of a UN member state. He was quoted by AFP questioning whether Zimbabwe's case amounted to a threat to international peace and security.

The other African countries represented at the G8 Summit were Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria, who said sanctions "may lead to internal conflict in Zimbabwe". The US and its allies pushed through the resolution as a means of putting pressure on the UN Security Council to also slap sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The US introduced a draft resolution calling for sanctions before the Security Council that would then legitimise the economic embargo America already has in place against the country. The Security Council is expected to debate the draft this week. In South Africa, Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband received a cool response from his South African counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to his calls for sanctions against Zimbabwe as the pair held talks yesterday.

Dlamini-Zuma said at a joint Press conference that Pretoria saw talks between Zimbabwe's ruling party and the opposition as the best way to resolve the country's problems. She expressed little enthusiasm for sanctions. "Our leaders are currently meeting in Japan at the G8 meeting and they have expressed reservations on sanctions and so we will take if from there," she said. "South Africa has always maintained that an inclusive government that will reflect the diversity and the will of the people" was the best way to tackle the country's problems, she added. The G8 is comprised of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US.

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