Southern African Leaders Endorse Mugabe, Call for End to Sanctions
The Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional grouping of 15 countries, has endorsed the re-election of President Robert Mugabe and called on the west to end sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai recently dropped a legal challenge to Mugabe’s re-election. He has claimed that the elections was ‘stolen’, pointing to irregularities in the electoral roll and evidence that large numbers of voters were turned away from polling stations. Western politicians had also expressed concerns over the legitimacy of the elections, although the African Union has described the vote as ‘free and fair’.
The decision by the SADC to back Mugabe is highly significant, as the group was responsible for brokering a power-sharing deal which allowed a government to be formed after disputed elections in 2008.
The group also called for “the lifting of all forms of sanctions hitherto imposed on Zimbabwe.” The United States, the European Union and ex-colonial power Britain have for years imposed sanctions against President Mugabe and senior members of his ZANU-PF party over alleged human rights abuses and election rigging.
President Mugabe himself has said that the election victory gives him a mandate to complete the final stage of his ‘black ownership’ plan which has seen the seizure of farmland and business property from white Zimbabweans – and has come under fire for its cronyism, its promotion of racism and facilitation of racist violence, and for simply failing to address the country’s economic problems.