SA pushes EU to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa has reiterated its call for the European Union (EU) to drop illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

South African President Jacob Zuma on Friday met with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the EU presidency.

The Zimbabwe issue overshadowed the meeting with South Africa determined to push for an end to sanctions although the Swedish prime minister insisted the bloc was not ready to lift the embargo.

Zuma and other Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders called, during a recent summit in Kinshasa, for an end to the sanctions and he made it clear that he would push the same demand with Prime Minister Reinfeldt.

"We are saying both of us understand where SADC comes from and where the EU comes from. But we are saying precisely because of that we need to engage so we can try and persuade the EU to lift sanctions," President Zuma said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Reinfeldt said the meeting with President Zuma would afford him an opportunity to learn more about the situation in Zimbabwe.

He said the visit was not in preparation for the lifting of sanctions against Harare. "I want to be clear: the EU is not prepared (for) lifting the restrictions we have on Zimbabwe," he said on Thursday.

Britain and other EU countries imposed the sanctions after President Mugabe won overwhelmingly in the 2002 presidential election, for what they alleged human rights abuses.

African nations, however, insist progress has been made with the signing of the Global Political Agreement negotiated by former South African president Thabo Mbeki under the auspices of SADC and the AU.

The EU delegation, led by Swedish Minister of International Corporation Gunilla Carlsson and includes the Spanish Director General for Africa Carmen Delapena, will meet President Mugabe on Saturday and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday.

The Zimbabwean government said nothing much should be expected from the meetings, as the two sides should cover a lot of ground to normalise ties.