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Sweden deplores worsening crisis in Zimbabwe


Itai Dzamara recently in Sweden

SWEDISH state secretary Annika Soder last week said her country was deeply concerned about the deteriorating political, social and economic situation in Z

imbabwe.


After she was asked to explain her country’s position regarding the situation in Zimbabwe, Soder said as a member of the European Union (EU) Sweden subscribed to the position adopted by the economic bloc.


The EU has imposed targeted sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his close allies. It has also castigated Mugabe’s policies and condemned human rights abuses in the Southern African country.


“There is a European Union position to which we subscribe. We are deeply concerned with the situation in Zimbabwe,” said Soder. “As an old friend of the Zimbabwean people, we believe that Zimbabweans should sort out their problems without violence and through debate.”


She denied charges that Sweden had not been forthright about its condemnation of the Zimbabwean crisis compared to other EU members such as Britain.


“There is agreement about the position on Zimbabwe in both our government and parliament. The sanctions imposed by the EU should be implemented on the listed individuals effectively. There should be an end to political repression, media restriction and the subsequent economic meltdown in Zimbabwe,” she said.


It was regrettable from Sweden’s point of view that immense investment contributed to Zimbabwe’s liberation is going up in smoke under the Zanu PF government, she said.


“There is disappointment on the part of Sweden. If we look back to the 1970s and the 80s a lot of political investment was done through Zanu and other parties. But now the situation is discouraging. This investment has failed to help the people of Zimbabwe. It has gone to waste. We think as a result of that, we are obliged to actively respond to the situation in Zimbabwe.”


Soder said her government has in the past several months been putting pressure on Sadc leaders to seek solutions to the Zimbabwe crisis through initiating dialogue.


Anna Brandt, the head of the Africa Department in the Swedish Foreign Affairs ministry, noted the worsening situation in Zimbabwe was discouraging people from her country from investing or visiting Zimbabwe as tourists.


“Our relationships have deteriorated drastically due to the situation in Zimbabwe,” Brandt said. “We don’t have Swedish companies willing to invest in Zimbabwe as was the case before. Even visits to Zimbabwe by Swedes have become very few.”


She added: “We are trying to work with non-governmental organisations on matters that can improve democratisation. Unfortunately, we are not seeing improvements regarding the situation in Zimbabwe.


“We are very concerned about the possibility of violence ahead of general elections. We were discouraged by the decision to kick out a UN crop assessment team. We are trying to advocate for the UN to be able to monitor the elections, from the campaigning period up to the announcement of results in order to ensure a level playing field.”

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