The international community should lift sanctions against Zimbabwe, so as to facilitate efforts to resolve its ongoing crisis, South-Africa's President Jacob Zuma told Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Wednesday. On his first visit to the European Parliament, MEPs urged Mr Zuma to take the lead in helping to resolve some of Africa’s most acute conflicts.
"On Zimbabwe, we gave leadership before anybody else did and the current power-sharing deal was facilitated by South Africa", Mr Zuma told MEPs, as he called on the international community to lift sanctions against it. "This would give a chance to the efforts we are making there and empower the Southern African Development Community to do more on Zimbabwe", he added in reply to questions by Louis Michel (ALDE, BE), Co-president of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA, NL) and Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR, UK).
Commenting on EU and US travel bans and asset freezes imposed on some of Zimbabwe's leading figures, including President Mugabe, Mr Zuma said that "sticking to the sanctions on individuals will give credit to the argument of the Zanu PF [President Mugabe's political party] that the functioning of the unity government is not supported to the fullest".
MEPs urged Mr Zuma that South Africa should play a more active role in helping to resolve some of the continent’s most acute crises.
Asked by Graham Watson (ALDE, UK) about press freedom in South Africa and the ANC's proposed media appeals tribunals, Mr Zuma said that "as the ruling party, ANC has a responsibility to protect citizens’ rights to privacy and freedom of the media is the only unregulated freedom. It cannot be abused".
EU to play a leading role in the developing world
In his initial address to MEPs, Mr Zuma underlined the strong ties between the EU and Africa’s largest economy. "Trade relations between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states are of critical importance", he said, adding that he is committed to concluding an Economic Partnership Agreement with SADC "provided the issue of rules of origin can be resolved".
"The EU can play an important role in the developing world", he said, underlining the importance of the EU-Africa Summit to be held in Libya in November and adding that "the European Parliament and the Joint Parliament Assembly have a critical role to play in the oversight of relations with Africa and the developing world in general. It is an engine that can drive deeper understanding between the EU and the rest of the world".
Michael Cashman (S&D, UK), Chair of Parliament’s delegation with South Africa, and Michael Gahler (EPP, DE), Chair of Parliament’s delegation with the Pan-African Parliament, also took part in a bilateral meeting between European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek and President Zuma.
In the Chair: Fiorello Provera (EFD, IT)