“The two leaders met and agreed that it is up to Zimbabweans to solve the political crisis in that country,” SABC’s SAFM
reported on Zuma’s meeting with Obama on the sidelines of a nuclear summit he is attending in the US.
Zuma, the SADC appointed mediator, has in the past few weeks been calling on western countries to remove sanctions imposed on Mugabe and his inner cabal as one way to help the implementation of neccessary reforms under Zimbabwe’s coalition government. He first made the call on his visit last month to the United Kingdom and repeated the call early this month during a visit to Uganda.
He however did not repeat at one of the most opportune moment presented by his bi-lateral talks with Obama. This silence
coupled with events of the past two week, in which Julius Malema – President of Zuma’s ANC youth wing – openly declared his support for Zanu PF, could be viewed as a tactical move aimed at diffusion mounting tension over alleged favoratism in his mediation role in Zimbabwe.
The MDC, the majority party in Zimbabwe’s one-year-old coalition government, has been up in arms with Zuma’s ANC over
Malema’s comments, which it says will affect his mediating capacity.
The Morgan Tsvangirai led party, which also accused the previous mediator and ex-South African president Thabo Mbeki of
favouring Mugabe’s Zanu PF, is of the opnion that a call for the removal of sanctions will only serve to help Zanu PF, discouraging it
from implementing the required political reforms. The party has in the past said it would prefer a situation where sanctions are lifted
gradually depending on progress that the coalition government makes.
Meanwhile, a multi-party ministerial team is expected to travel to Europe soon to start the process of formal re-engagement with the
European Union (EU), which stands out as one of the highest contributors to Zimbabwe’s humanitarian needs despite imposing
sanctions on Zanu PF officials.
Zimbabwe needs about US $ 10 billion to get the country’s economy, once the most promising in Africa, back on track. But western donors standing by to help with neccessary financial requirements are demanding the implementation of agreed democratic benchmarks before they can chip in.
The EU together with US further imposed financial and travel sanctions on Zimbabwean officials and a selected companies early this year.