Why Mugabe has been winning the international PR contest


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If a meeting is not held, the sanctions will continue to apply until the heads of government meeting in Abuja, Nigeria in December.

Howard seems to have the support of the Commonwealth secretariat as well as some African countries notably Kenya and Botswana.

Divisions within the European Union surfaced in January when it was announced that France intended to invite Mugabe to the Franco-African Summit in February, a day after the EU sanctions were supposed to expire.

Portugal also wanted to invite him to attend the African Caribbean and Pacific countries meeting in Lisbon in April.

Britain, which has been at the forefront of isolating Zimbabwe agreed to allow France to invite Mugabe provided France supported the renewal of sanctions and Mugabe was allowed to travel to France.

The report says Britain would probably have received the support of Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden while France would have had the backing of Portugal and perhaps Italy and Greece.

The ACP-EU summit was postponed when it became apparent that African leaders would boycott it if Mugabe was not allowed to attend while the UK, Germany and Sweden and other EU members would boycott if he was allowed.

The report says that the European Union policy on Zimbabwe is suspect in much of Africa because of the perception that the UK, the former colonial power, is leading a campaign against Mugabe.

It quotes a top Movement for Democratic Change official as saying: "Putting Britain in front only helps Mugabe in his propaganda that this is a colonial issue. The dispute is between Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe, not between Mugabe and Britain."

Even the US was divided.

The report says although the Bush administration had taken an early lead by refusing to recognise the March 2002 presidential elections and quickly banned over 200 ZANU-PF officials from travelling to the US, the Bush administration held off implementing a promised asset freeze on senior ZANU-PF leaders until 7 March 2003 because of a dispute between the State Department and the National Security Council Africa staff.

It says the delay in freezing assets of ZANU-PF officials had diminished US credibility and given time for all the relevant assets to be moved out of Washington's reach.

The ICG says the basic objective of the international community should be to resolve the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe by restoring the legitimacy of its government.

This could be achieved through inter-party talks aimed at producing a negotiated agreement between ZANU-PF and the MDC on a political transition.

Continued next page

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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