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Australia to pressure SA over Zim

Roadwin Chirara/Ray Matikinye

AUSTRALIA says it will continue to ratchet up pressure on countries like South Africa to “stand up to” President Mugabe in the light of his refusal to accept assistance for peop

le in need of food and thousands made homeless by Operation Murambatsvina.

Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Downer told parliament four million people need food aid, but the government in Zimbabwe has rejected a United Nations offer of help.

“We will continue to do what we can to pressure the international community to take further action against Zimbabwe,” said Downer.

Downer said Australia would continue “to pressure countries like South Africa to be more robust in standing up to President Mugabe and to pressure members of the Security Council to consider referring his regime to the International Criminal Court”.

The Zimbabwean government’s programme to clean up slum areas has caused concern internationally. President Mugabe refused aid from the UN because of the world body’s description of the demolition programme as a humanitarian crisis, and over calls for the prosecution of those who orchestrated the campaign.

Meanwhile, the United States is set to publish a new list of Zimbabwean government officials targeted for sanctions.

The new sanctions list will be made up of two sets. One list will comprise limited economic sanctions while the second will be made up of a visa ban targeted at 86 government and ruling party officials most closely associated with Mugabe’s misrule.

The visa ban will for the first time include children of listed officials applying to study in the United States. This will not however include those currently studying in the US, nor will it be made public.

US ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell confirmed that a new list would be published soon.

Speaking at Africa University near Mutare on Wednesday, Dell said: “We are going to be having new additions to the current list of these government officials and their children up and until Zimbabwe meets and commits itself to the restoration of the rule of law, conducts free and fair elections and places the military under civilian control.

“We will not stop until they feel the pinch for what they have done. How can you have 20% of the population determine the future of the whole country and its economy being entirely in their hands, including multiple farms?” Dell said.

“We recently had a minister’s wife crying at the embassy after having been denied a visa to travel to the United States for her son’s graduation in Texas and this we will continue to do,” he said.

The US ambassador blamed the government for the country’s economic crisis which he attributed to gross mismanagement and corrupt rule.

“Mr Mugabe and his officials who have presided over the collapse bear the blame,” said Dell.

He described claims by government that laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) were enacted for the benefit of the Zimbabwean populace as “rhetorical garbage”.

“Government’s claims that it enacted laws such Posa and Aippa at the request of its people is rhetorical garbage. These are repressive laws that have a negative bearing on society,” Dell said.

Manicaland resident minister and governor, Tineyi Chigudu, who was present at the function, criticised Dell’s comments on Aippa.

“Unlike some, I am not one to call laws of other countries names such as garbage,” Chigudu said.

“All I got from the ambassador’s speech was a call for the people of Zimbabwe to revolt against the Zanu PF government.”

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