/ 9 September 2009

Motlanthe: SADC is not protecting Mugabe

A regional call for sanctions to be lifted against Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is not to protect the veteran leader but to promote investment, South Africa’s deputy president said Wednesday.

Kgalema Motlanthe defended the appeal by Southern African leaders while answering questions in Parliament, saying the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had taken “a very responsible approach” to Zimbabwe’s woes.

“This call for the lifting of sanctions is not aimed at protecting and defending President Robert Mugabe as an individual. It is meant to attract necessary investments into Zimbabwe so that their economic recovery plan can take effect,” he said.

“We know that once the economy recovers and also the political stability is consolidated the region that is SADC can only benefit from such developments, and that is really the rationale behind SADC’s decision.”

The 15-nation bloc concluded a summit on Tuesday saying the international community should lift all forms of sanctions because the country has shown progress in implementing an inclusive government between Mugabe and rival parties.

Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai joined a unity government in February, ending a year-long political crisis after failed elections which plunged the country into a crippling economic crisis.

Motlanthe was asked by a minority opposition party as to how South Africa could “with a clear conscience make calls for the lifting of sanctions against a man who has caused so much suffering against his people”.

Motlanthe said while there had in the past been calls for more force to be used against Zimbabwe, problems “were never solved by waging wars”.

“The SADC view is that only dialogue solves problems. President Mugabe is an individual. He is now of advanced age and it is not helpful to devote all of our efforts on dealing with him as an individual.”

“The continued calls for sanctions would serve no useful purpose. It would not in anyway assist the ordinary people in Zimbabwe.”

The 85-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled since independence in 1980, and his close allies are the subject of targeted sanctions imposed by Western states, including travel bans and asset freezes. — AFP