SA, UK still disagree on the fate of Zimbabwe

The people of Zimbabwe need to remove themselves from their current crisis situation, Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Tuesday.

”The crisis in Zimbabwe needs all the Zimbabweans to work together to extricate themselves out of their positions,” Dlamini-Zuma told a gathering at the presidential guest house following the eighth meeting of the South Africa-United Kingdom Bilateral Forum.

”South Africa has for a long time said Zimbabwe needs an inclusive government to get out of their problems … and our position has not changed,” she said.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the UK stands by its position that the crisis in Zimbabwe is a regional one and that regional and international intervention is necessary.

Miliband referred to a SeSotho saying that if a neighbour’s house is burning, the owner of the house next door must recognise that he is also in danger. He referred to Zimbabwe as South Africa’s ”troubled neighbour”.

However, while both countries recognise the crisis situation in Zimbabwe, they have different approaches to how this should be addressed.

The South African government has repeatedly called for Zimbabwe to continue with discussions towards a unified government to reflect the diverse will of its people, and the UK has reiterated its call that the will of the people be recognised, as seen on the ballot papers on March 27, when the Movement for Democratic Change claimed a victory.

Dlamini-Zuma would not be drawn on whether South Africa would intervene and back the proposed United Nations Security Council sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Both leaders said the bilateral talks had been constructive. Miliband said the forum was ”friendly” and ”frank”, and that it highlighted that both countries are conscious of their ability to help each other and their neighbouring countries.

G8 statement
Meanwhile, in a statement on Tuesday, leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) rich countries called for ”further steps” against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s regime but avoided any mention of sanctions.

The leaders, several of whom have called for UN sanctions against Zimbabwe during their summit in Japan, said they would take further action, including financial measures, against the African nation over its contested election.

”We will take further steps, inter alia introducing financial and other measures against those individuals responsible for the violence,” they said in a special statement on Zimbabwe.

At the G8 meeting, Russia rejected further sanctions against the Mugabe regime.

”We don’t believe that in this case sanctions are an effective tool to improve the situation” in Zimbabwe, said Russian official Alexander Pankin on the sidelines of the summit meeting.

Pankin added that Russia is of the opinion that there first should be ”a broad negotiation” at the national level, which would include other leaders from the continent.

”It is important to maintain peace and stability in Zimbabwe and not to trigger a situation that would be unstoppable or could unfold in a very negative way,” he said. — Sapa, AFP, Sapa-dpa

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