AU calls for sanctions against Zim to be lifted

Sunday, February 1, 2009
By: 
Bathandwa Mbola

Addis Ababa - The African Union (AU) has urged the United States and European Union to lift their sanctions against Zimbabwe, following the two political parties agreeing to establish a unity government earlier this week.

The Executive Council of the AU, which is made up of 53-member states, adopted a resolution on Saturday calling for lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe to help ease the humanitarian situation in the country.

Dr Jean Ping, Chairperson of the AU Commission said there was a need to move swiftly to lift the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. "Everybody should help Zimbabwe to rebuild its economy, because an agreement has been reached."

He commended the parties for their compromising spirit and mutual accommodation. He also expressed his appreciation to the Southern Africa Development Community for its tireless efforts in ensuring an agreement was reached.

President Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to establish a unity government during the Southern African Development Community (SADC) special summit in Pretoria, South Africa.

Mr Tsvangirai is to be sworn in as Prime Minister on February 11.

African Union Chairperson and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete welcomed Mr Tsvangirai's decision to join the unity government. "The situation looks promising, it is a step forward."

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also urged world leaders on Saturday to help rebuild Zimbabwe's economy.

"This is an important step toward ending the political impasse in Zimbabwe but it is not a guarantee that Zimbabwe's distress is over. Rebuilding the economy and ending the people's terrible suffering will take much more work on the part of all Zimbabweans, regional leaders and the international community," said Mr Annan.

South Africa will continue to be involved in rebuilding the southern African country, said Presidential spokesperson Thabo Masebe.

"This stage is critical in terms of achieving political stability and the first step towards the economic recovery of that country," he said, adding that a joint commission must be established to facilitate cooperation between ministries in terms of the economic recovery plan.

On Friday, the two political parties launched the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) in Harare. In a statement, the two said JOMIC, composed of four senior members from ZANU-PF and four senior members from each of the two MDC formations, would ensure the implementation of the Global Political Agreement.

JOMIC would also assess the implementation of the agreement from time to time and consider steps which might need to be taken to ensure the speedy and full implementation of the Agreement in its entirety as well as receive reports and complaints in respect of any issue related to the implementation, enforcement and execution of the agreement among others.

Meanwhile President Kgalema Motlanthe and current Chairperson of SADC, is expected to table a report on the outcomes of the Pretoria SADC Summit at the African Union Summit in Ethiopia. He, along with former President Thabo Mbeki, was pivotal in facilitating talks between the two parties.