SA wants EU to lift Zimbabwe sanctions

Johannesburg - South Africa will press again this week for the European Union to lift targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe, the country’s foreign affairs spokesperson Saul Kgomotso Molobi said.

President Jacob Zuma was scheduled to leave South Africa on Monday for a one-day annual EU-South Africa summit in Brussels the next day, followed by an official visit to Belgium on Wednesday.

If the EU asked about progress in Zimbabwe, as seemed likely given that South Africa is the main power-broker in the country, Zuma would renew his calls for the EU to lift travel bans and asset freezes on Mugabe and around 200 of his allies, Molobi said.

The EU has also frozen the assets of 33 companies linked to Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and bans arms shipments to Zimbabwe.

“South Africa will set out the AU (African Union) position, which calls for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe,” Molobi told the German Press Agency dpa

South Africa, which brokered Zimbabwe’s 2008 power-sharing accord, believed that ending the punitive measures was key to creating cohesion between President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, he said.

Zuma also called for the sanctions to be lifted during a visit to Britain earlier this year.

Mugabe maintains that the measures, which were first levied in 2002, are hampering the country’s recovery from an economic meltdown in 2008.

The EU rejects that claim.

At a recent conference on Zimbabwe in Johannesburg, Germany’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Albrecht Conze insisted: “There are strictly no restrictions on trade with Zimbabwe, investment in Zimbabwe or on foreign banks lending money to Zimbabwe.”

At Tuesday’s summit, the EU and South Africa will also discuss trade, particularly the economic partnership agreements (EPA) that the EU is trying to negotiate with African states.

The EPAs replace a previous trade scheme between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, which was ruled incompatible with World Trade Organization rules.

South Africa has rejected the terms of the EPA, but some of its neighbours and fellow members of the Southern African Customs Union, such as Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and Botswana, have signed up.

- SAPAzuma mt meet

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