Spotlight on Zim sanctions at SADC summit

Friday, August 17, 2012
Chris Bathembu

Maputo - A call by Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane for African leaders to put pressure on Western countries to end their targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe was likely to make its way into the discussions of the SADC summit that opened in Maputo, Mozambique, on Friday.

"We call for the lifting of all sanctions against Zimbabwe. The time has come that come that African leaders make that call strongly," Thabane said.

Thabane, who referred to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as "our father", was elected as the new Prime Minister of Lesotho after his coalition government unseated former leader Pakalitha Mosisili.

It's not the first time that SADC has raised its voice on the matter of Zimbabwean sanctions. Previous summits have also urged the West to drop sanctions against Mugabe's government.

The European Union has recently undertaken to lift most sanctions imposed a decade ago on that country, on the condition it holds a credible referendum on a new constitution.

Both President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai received a warm welcome when they arrived for the SADC meeting on Friday.

President Jacob Zuma, who was scheduled to present a report on the implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe, had to leave the summit early due to a domestic problem in South Africa.

Zimbabwe has completed drafting a new constitution that limits the powers of the president, while strengthening those of parliament.

The draft reportedly imposes a limit of two five-year terms on the presidency.

Some of the legislative reforms include the Human Rights Bill and Electoral Amendment Bill, which were passed by the Assembly and passed to Senate for debate. This is seen as an important step to creating a political environment conducive for elections.