Thursday, May 05, 2011

Zimbabwe News Update: EU Not Ready to Lift Sanctions; Media Form of Censorship

EU not ready to lift sanctions

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 23:10
Herald Reporter

THE EU has welcomed the progress in the on-going talks between the three parties in the inclusive Government, but still insists the bloc is not committed to immediately lift illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

The 27-member bloc claims it is watching developments in Zimbabwe and its position on illegal sanctions would be reviewed in due course.

EU representative to Zimbabwe, Mr Ado Dell’Aricia, said this yesterday while addressing journalists ahead of the celebrations to mark the EU Day on May 9.

“There is a process on-going in Zimbabwe with support from the region to normalise relations in the country and these are all encouraging signals and we are hopeful that they will lead to an election acceptable to all based on standards that do not necessarily meet EU standards but are standards that have been agreed by Sadc,” he said.

Mr Dell’Aricia said the removal of persons on the illegal sanctions list was an on-going exercise and would be determined by developments in the country.

“It is a continuing process and already several people were taken away from the list, the EU is ready to review the process based on the reports we receive from Zimbabweans,” Mr Dell’Aricia said.

The EU removed 35 people from the travel embargo in February this year and this followed revelations by whistleblower website that MDC-T secretary general Mr Tendai Biti was instrumental in determining the individuals that were denied entry into the bloc.

Mr Dell’Aricia said the EU hoped the three parties would make further progress in talks that were scheduled to be held in South Africa between the negotiators and the facilitation team representing Sadc-appointed mediator and South African president Mr Jacob Zuma.

The EU envoy denied that they had stalled negotiating with the Zimbabwe Government in favour of the Sadc effort.

“The Sadc senior officials visit to the EU is based on a resolution of August last year at the Sadc Summit held in Namibia.

They presented their position and the EU presented theirs,” he said.

Mr Dell’Aricia said dialogue between the EU and Zimbabwe had been transferred to Harare and they were now waiting for signals from Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Ministry on the next dates for their meeting.

“There is political dialogue and it was transferred to Harare. We have held one meeting since the beginning of the year and we are likely to hold another one depending on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he said.

Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Foreign Affairs Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and the permanent secretary Mr Joey Bimha were fruitless yesterday.

The dialogue between the two parties stalled after some members of the Zimbabwean team including Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Chinamasa were denied visas to enter the EU.

Minister Chinamasa who is a member of the team was denied a visa on two occasions and was at one time detained at Frankfurt Airport in Germany on his way to attend the talks in Brussels, Belgium.

The team also includes Minister Mumbengegwi, Regional Integration and International Co-operation Minister, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma and senior Government officials.

Sanctions: Abhorrent form of censorship

Monday, 02 May 2011 22:12
By Special Correspondent

SIX Zimbabwean journalists from the state-owned Zimbabwe Newspapers Group - Pikirayi Deketeke, Caesar Zvayi and Munyaradzi Huni as well as Reuben Barwe and Judith Makwanya from Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings and freelancer Musorowegomo Mukosi - have been placed on the European Union sanctions list.

The six, alongside other perceived supporters of ‘‘the Mugabe regime'', will have their assets frozen and will not be allowed into European Union territory.

The move is shocking in that it is a blatant attempt at mind control and is clearly aimed at muzzling voices other than those that are seen and heard to be supporting Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change.

I say this because, early July 2008, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner stated that the European Union would not recognise any government in Zimbabwe other than a government led by Tsvangirai ("EU wants Tsvangirai to head Zimbabwe govt," Reuters, July 1).

Also at the time he was slapped with sanctions, Zvayi no longer worked for the The Herald and I doubt that Huni, like the bulk of those working within Zimbabwe's state-owned media, can afford to travel to any part of the European Union. It is also highly unlikely that any of them have assets in the European Union.

In placing these six journalists on the sanctions list, the European Union was actually trying to instil fear and create a psychological block on all writers and commentators who have an interest in Zimbabwe and who have an alternative take on what is happening there.

This is further evidenced by the fact that among other things, Peter Mavhunga - a court probation officer and part-time newspaper columnist who has been living and working in Britain for the past 33 years - was being subjected to a witch hunt by British authorities because he wrote for the Zimbabwean state-owned Herald newspaper ("UK bars Zim DJs,", July 15). Mavhunga has since stopped writing for The Herald.

Reason Wafawarova had to fight tooth and nail in the Australian courts to avoid deportation.

His crime, he writes a weekly column in The Herald critical of Western foreign policies and the MDC formations.

While I believe that a solution needs to be found to the country's political and economic crisis, I do not believe that threatening, harassing, and intimidating writers in this manner will do anything to resolve the crisis.

Behaviour like this is an abhorrent form of censorship and an attack on the freedoms of speech, thought, and association.

They are no different from the treatment repressive regimes all over the world routinely mete out on writers they see as expressing views that deviate from - or threaten - the regimes' interests.

In placing Deketeke, Zvayi, Huni, Barwe, Makwanya and Mukosi on its sanctions list, the European Union and the US were, in effect, threatening not only journalists who work for the state-owned media in Zimbabwe but all people who have an interest in the future of the country, telling them, "If you are seen to be supporting anyone other than Tsvangirai, we will make life uncomfortable for you."

The European Union, like the United States, tries to justify this position by arguing that because Tsvangirai "won" the March 29 elections, he should, therefore, lead the country.

In all likelihood, the EU and US are aware that this argument is deeply flawed and are now waging psychological warfare on writers and political commentators in an attempt to manipulate what they write and say about Tsvangirai.

I say the European Union's position on Tsvangirai is flawed because it is not and should not be up to the European Union to decide who should have what position in the Zimbabwean government.

That decision should be left to the people of Zimbabwe.

In addition to this, the European Union's position is flawed because it is based on the embellishment that Tsvangirai won the March 29 elections. The truth of the matter is that Tsvangirai got 47,9 percent of the votes and this fell short of the 50 percent (plus one) that both the Zanu-PF and the MDC had agreed were needed in order to determine who should lead the country.

Based on the results of the March 29 elections, it can actually be argued that the majority of the people in Zimbabwe - 52,1 percent - do not have confidence in Tsvangirai as a leader.

Had Tsvangirai taken part in the June 27 presidential runoff and had he received 50 percent plus one of the votes, then yes, he would have had the right to lead the country.

But because he unilaterally pulled out of the elections, he left President Robert Mugabe as the sole candidate. And, because (President) Mugabe was the sole contestant in the June 27 elections, he won, and is, therefore, the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe.

Instead of threatening writers and political commentators, if the European Union truly wants a feasible solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe, it should support the mediation efforts that are currently being overseen by Sadc and facilitated by the South African President.

The original version of this article was first published on the website on July 15 2008 and was written by Ambrose Musiyiwa a Zimbabwean resident in Leicester, the United Kingdom.

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