Call for ‘tough’ sanctions on Zimbabwe

British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband on Monday called for ”tough” sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s regime, while also denouncing human rights abuses.

In a lecture at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, Miliband called for an end to the violence and intimidation of Zimbabweans and for the United Nations to impose further sanctions against Mugabe’s Zanu-PF regime.

Asked about what types of sanctions should be brought against Zimbabwe, he said: ”I think the most important sanctions are travel and financial sanctions, which hit the top of the regime hard.

”They’re the people who are profiting from the abuse and intimidation that has taken place. I think that it’s right that the United Nations this week takes tough and clear financial and travel sanctions against those people.”

Miliband, in South Africa on a three-day visit, also called for a transitional government led by those who won the initial election on March 29.

Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won the first round of elections, which led to a presidential run-off on June 27.

”We support the call for a transitional government, a broad-based government in respect of the March 29 election. We hope that the African Union can join the Southern African Development Community [SADC] in bringing good sense to bear in the situation and, above all, to end the violence,” said Miliband.

Referring to President Thabo Mbeki’s mediation efforts, Miliband said Mbeki was an ”extremely experienced politician” who did not need advice.

Mugabe, who won the presidential run off election following the withdrawal of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai from the race, was described as a person who has ”turned the weapons of the state against his own people” and unleashed a campaign of violence.

This was reiterated by British High Commissioner Paul Boateng, who described the situation as a ”tremendous tragedy” and a ”concerted effort” by Mugabe to make the Zimbabwean elections seems like a British-Zimbabwe affair.

”We recognise and accept our historic responsibility for Zimbabwe. We’ve never denied where the initial land grab came from … What we are saying in relation to Zimbabwe is that of course we care.”

Miliband said the African Union and the European Union needed to work together to resolve conflict on the African continent and respond to crises.

Meanwhile, the United Democratic Movement said Britain needed to work with the SADC in order to resolve the problems in Zimbabwe.

On sanctions, party leader Bantu Holomisa said these would only hit ordinary citizens and put further strain on South Africa’s ability to meet the socioeconomic needs of its own people.

Miliband was expected to meet with African National Congress president Jacob Zuma on Tuesday. — Sapa

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