News / Africa

Zimbabwe's Mugabe Says No to More Political Reform

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe delivers a speech during the closing ceremony of the 30th Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Windhoek, Namibia, 17 Aug 2010
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe delivers a speech during the closing ceremony of the 30th Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Windhoek, Namibia, 17 Aug 2010

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Peta Thornycroft

Days after hopes were raised at the Southern Africa Development Community summit that Zimbabwe is set to make substantial political progress, President Robert Mugabe has once again turned his back on reforms he signed to nearly two years ago.

In remarks at a closed-door meeting of ZANU-PF's politburo, following last week's SADC summit in Windhoek, Namibia, Mr. Mugabe said he will not concede to more political reform until U.S. and EU sanctions are lifted. His words were published in last week's pro-ZANU-PF Sunday Mail newspaper.

The sanctions on Mr. Mugabe, his colleagues in ZANU-PF and some companies they control were imposed in 2002, following violent Zimbabwe elections.

In Windhoek, the SADC facilitator on Zimbabwe, South African President Jacob Zuma presented his report and a plan for resolution of outstanding political reforms agreed to by Mr. Mugabe nearly two years ago. The political agreement is the foundation upon which Zimbabwe's unity government was formed last year.

In his report, Mr. Zuma said 24 out of 27 outstanding issues have been agreed to by Movement for Democratic Change leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Mr. Mugabe. Mr. Zuma suggested that within a month from the SADC summit the leaders would try to find agreement on the outstanding issues.

Those include the position of attorney general, the post of governor of Zimbabwe's central bank, and Mr. Mugabe's refusal to sign MDC treasurer Roy Bennett in to office as deputy agriculture minister.

Since returning from Namibia last week, Mr. Mugabe says he will not appoint any MDC leaders to powerful positions as provincial governors, even though, as Mr. Zuma noted in his report, the present ZANU-PF incumbent's contracts expired last month.

The Sunday Mail reported Mr. Mugabe told his 150-member politburo that Prime Minister Tsvangirai had failed to fulfill his side of the political agreement to ensure the largely personal Western sanctions against the president and his colleagues were lifted.

The Movement for Democratic Change says it has no control over foreign governments. U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray told journalists at a briefing last week the United States would not lift sanctions until the political agreement is fulfilled.

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