Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mbeki parrots Mugabe's line on sanctions

".....There are no sanctions currently imposed on Zimbabwe by Western nations or anyone else. There are targeted sanctions that affect only the ruling elite assets and their ability to travel. Yet Robert Mugabe, who is acknowledged by many as a master of propaganda, has managed to create a media frenzy around this issue, constantly blaming sanctions for destroying Zimbabwe’s economy. Now South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki is reported to have adopted this spin....

The South African president is also quoted as saying: "Sanctions also damage the image of Zimbabwe, causing a severe blow to her tourist sector.” Mbeki made other policy recommendations, but it is the “sanctions” issue that has aroused concern.

Piers Pigou, a researcher on Southern Africa at The National Archives in South Africa, said there is a media war taking place between those who support Mugabe and those who want to see him go. He described the whole sanctions issue as “nonsense which is being peddled by ZANU-PF and its apologists.” He said sanctions are a smokescreen that is not really there but it has given SADC and Africa in general a “headache.” Pigou said issues are sometimes over-exaggerated or twisted by both sides to achieve a certain purpose.

Pigou also blamed the lack of direct information from Mbeki and SADC leaders for some of confusion that is making the rounds in reports on Zimbabwe. He said Mbeki’s “quiet diplomacy” has led to a broader problem of misrepresentation by the media, and his ability to explain things clearly has been problematic.”

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