Zimbabwe's government-controlled Herald newspaper Wednesday accused Australia of trying to bring about regime change with former Rhodesians, and also charged that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has sold out to Australia and the West.
Australia recently toughened its targeted sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle by revoking the visas of dependents of officials of the ruling ZANU-PF party. Tsvangirai was in Australia this week, nominally on a family visit - but one that included a meeting with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who soon after announced an additional A$3.5 million (US$2.9 million) food aid to Zimbabwe.
In May, the Australian government barred its cricket team from touring the Southern African country, covering a resulting International Cricket Council fine.
The move was in response to the Zimbabwean government's apparent condoning of police violence in March against top opposition figures including Tsvangirai, who was arrested March 11 and emerged from police custody three days later evidently severely battered. The images galvanized international opinion.
Australia and New Zealand along with the United States and the European Community have established lists of top Zimbabwean government and ruling party officials barred from travel in those countries or zones, and whose financial assets may be frozen.
Democracy and governance program director Peter Kagwanja of the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that media reflect Harare's views, but rupturing ties would be a mistake.