via Zuma’s adviser changes her tune on Mugabe, Zimbabwe election | African News | BDlive by Amogelang Mbatha
EUROPE and the US should engage with Zimbabwe and lift sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his aides after his July 31 poll win, Lindiwe Zulu, one of President Jacob Zuma’s advisers on the Zimbabwean facilitation process, said on Thursday.
But her comments contradicted the barrage of criticism she made about the Zimbabwe electoral process before the poll.
In an interview, Ms Zulu credited Zanu (PF)’s victory on the opposition’s failure to unite.
Outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) and the splinter MDC led by Welshman Ncube chose to fight the poll separately, splitting the opposition vote. This made Mr Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) appear “stable and strong”, she said in an interview.
Mr Mugabe secured 61% of the vote and his Zanu (PF) captured two-thirds of the seats in parliament. The MDC said the vote was rigged. Local observers and western governments joined Mr Tsvangirai in criticising the conduct of the ballot. But South Africa, the region and the African Union gave the vote a thumbs-up.
“Europe and America must stop this stop-and-watch approach that they have for Zimbabwe,” said Ms Zulu, who had a drawn-out public row with Mr Mugabe just before the general elections.
In the run-up to the election, Ms Zulu was critical of the ruling Zanu (PF) government’s conduct, resulting in Mr Mugabe asking his South African counterpart to rein her in. This led to Ms Zulu’s silencing and a public rebuke from the South African Presidency.
Mr Mugabe and Ms Zulu appear to have made up at the Southern African Development Community summit in Malawi.
Ms Zulu also endorsed Mr Mugabe’s indigenisation programme, which threatens to force foreign and white-owned businesses to give black Zimbabweans a controlling stake in their local units. “It is time that the economic benefits from our countries benefit Africans as well,” she said.
Ms Zulu said although the reforms were held in haste, they were necessary. “He (Mr Mugabe) knows the game, he understands it and he is sharp,” she said.
Her statements came on a day when the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) slumped back into negative territory.
The exchange gave up earlier meagre gains as investors weighed the prospects of a new administration that was likely to entrench Mr Mugabe’s indigenisation-driven economic policies.
Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Southern Africa, has been reduced to a net importer of most basic goods and commodities, with manufacturing and industry mostly battling for viability and capacity utilisation.
There are reports that small, indigenous-owned banks, most of which have battled for survival in an increasingly competitive and illiquid environment, are now limiting cash withdrawals.
However, continued use of the dollar as a benchmark currency has provided some respite as the bourse rebounded off an 11% decline soon after announcement of Mr Mugabe’s victory in the first week of last month. On Wednesday, the bourse closed 0.16% up.