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African Union Demands Sanctions against Mugabe Regime Be Lifted

Zimbabweans are reportedly hopeful that Washington and the European Union will soon lift sanctions imposed on the country that they claim have led to untold hardships. The African Union and South Africa made the request after main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to join a unity government with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. The African Union urged both Washington and the European Union to help Zimbabwe rebuild its ill economy, which has recorded the highest inflation rate of more than two million percent. It contends that lifting the sanctions would go a long way to alleviate the suffering among ordinary Zimbabweans who have been saddled with an economic meltdown and a cholera epidemic. Political analyst Glen Mpani tells reporter Peter Clottey Zimbabweans should not keep their hopes too high.

"The demand by the AU and SADC (Southern African Development Community) that sanctions on Zimbabwe should be lifted, was bound to follow after the MDC (opposition Movement for Democratic Change) has agreed to get into the government of national unity. And what SADC and the AU are simply trying to do is trying and get Zimbabwe back on recovery path," Mpani pointed out.

He said failure of the European Union (EU) lifting sanctions targeted against Zimbabwe might pose a testy showdown between the African continent and Europe.

"All they are simply trying to do is to demand that the EU lifts the sanctions, and if in the event that the EU refuses to do that, then it would now be an African issue versus Europe. And I don't think Europe would want to put themselves in a position where they are more or less fighting a continent rather than directly fighting Zimbabwe," he said.

Mpani said there is a possibility that both the EU and Washington might not give in easily to SADC and the African union.

"I don't think the EU or America or Britain is going to be able to yield much to what the AU is saying because I think basically their argument would be to say that these are targeted sanctions and we are going to take a wait and see approach and see the situation there to see whether the government of national unity Zimbabwe is going to yield anything," Mpani pointed out.

He said the lifting of the sanctions on Zimbabwe could reverse the country's economic meltdown into a recovery.

"The call for the removal of the sanctions is very important on the basis that the line of credit from the World Bank and other multilateral agencies have been blocked because of the political crisis in Zimbabwe. So one would hope that if there is a positive response, that in itself can assist the Zimbabwe government to be able to start accessing lines of credit from those multilateral bodies," he said.

Mpani said both Washington and the European Union imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe because of the repression among other injustices meted out to innocent civilians.

"It is important that people understand that the decision to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe was a decision made by countries based on their foreign policies. And so they would not be pushed into a position where they are forced to change their stance regarding Zimbabwe. But what is important is that they are also going to put demands and say we can only be able to do this in the event that the Zimbabwe government is seen producing results. It also gives the EU, America and Britain the opportunity for them to also put conditions, say we cannot unilaterally remove the sanctions on Zimbabwe simply because they have gone into a unity government. We would want to see the result of that government," Mpani noted.

South Africa's Archbishop Desmund Tutu who was a vigorous anti-apartheid campaigner has added his voice calling for sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted, saying politics should not be allowed under any circumstances to hold the ordinary Zimbabwean hostage.

Meanwhile, both Washington and London have reportedly offered restrained hope in response to the announcement of a unity government, saying such announcements had been made before, and stressing that implementation of pacts are vital. Some European foreign ministers last Monday tightened sanctions on Zimbabwe, freezing the assets of companies based in British tax havens for the first time. They also added 26 names to the 177 others and their families close to President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF regime to an international travel ban.