South Africa?s main opposition party, Democratic Alliance, has started a letter writing campaign against a possible one-billion dollar loan for Zimbabwe. The party says the e-mail letters, criticizing the proposal, can be downloaded from the party?s website and mailed to President Mbeki.

Tony Leon is chairman of the Democratic Alliance. From Johannesburg, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about opposition to a loan for Zimbabwe. Mr. Leon says, ?The objections of the opposition in South Africa are three-fold. Number one, an unconditional loan to (Zimbabwe President) Robert Mugabe will be misused and abused, I think, for the further oppression of his citizens as we?ve witnessed recently. Secondly, if indeed there are any conditions attached you can rest assured subject to the previous track record of Robert Mugabe that the conditions will be honored only in the breech and in effect will be dishonored. And we will end up in a situation where six and a half billion rand of South African taxpayers? money will in fact be misused by the government of Zimbabwe for the purpose of propping itself up in power. And the third objection is that the loan in question, which is over a billion dollars, would amount to something like 500 times the budgeted amount that South Africa gives for humanitarian relief as a total of its current national budget, which shows you how extraordinary this amount is and how unprecedented granting such a loan would be.? 

The DA leader says conditions must be attached to any loan to Zimbabwe that call for democratic reforms. He says a road map to reform in Zimbabwe is needed, which contains ?calibrated steps agreed to by the African Union.? Mr. Leon says those conditions must lead to ?the stepping down of Mugabe?the restoration of democracy and the holding of fresh elections.?

The Democrat Alliance has been sharply critical of President Mbeki?s ?quiet diplomacy? toward Zimbabwe.