EU LIFTS SANCTION - WHY THAT MEANS NOTHING TO ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS
President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at State House after swearing in Ministers at the start of the Inclusive Government. The lifting of sanctions by the EU only serve to remind Mugabe that the man who asked for him to be put on the sanctions list is his Prime Minister today
So, the European Union has lifted sanctions against Zimbabwe. ZANU PF, Mugabe's party, has reacted by spitting in the EUs face.
This was to be expected. Mugabe and his party have long rejected the legality and morality of the sanctions. Tsvangirai, Mugabe's Prime Minister, together with the EU, have long played the semantic game of insisting these were not sanctions, but "restrictive measures" - Mugabe had so powerfully loaded that one word - sanctions - that Tsvangirai and the European Union suddenly became scared to even utter it.
But I see that, today, all reports refer to whatever these are as "sanctions." I do not hear the EU or Tsvangirai's party correcting these papers.
Mugabe and his party will never forgive the EU, Britain and the USA. This is fact. The Zimbabwean president has said the sanctions simply remind him of his time in jail, the 11 years he was locked up by the Rhodesian Government. He never capitulated then and he was not going to capitulate now.
The sanctions sought specifically to hold Mugabe down while Tsvangirai and the MDC beat him up.To cripple his ability to counter the MDC with either financial or or political counter-measures.
So, these guys, who effectively wished Mugabe dead (many have said it out loud), should not expect that simply allowing Mugabe to fly into Europe unencumbered will suddenly get him to be nice to Perfidious Albion and the "Anglo-Saxons".
That means there will be no invitation to Western Powers to come and observe the elections that Mugabe, in a provocative stance, wants held on June 29 this year, the exact date in 2008 when the vicious run-off campaign for the Presidency led Tsvangirai to throw in the towel and capitulate to Mugabe.
The West's opinion on those elections will be ignored.
The West, as far as ZANU PF and Mugabe are concerned, are only interested in seeing the back of Mugabe and there is no reason for him to extend a hand to them because they will rip it off.
Elections will come when Mugabe wants them, unless of course, he is pressured by SADC and Zuma of South Africa. That is not going to happen. Already, SADC leaders are complaining that Tsvangirai and his crew have become comfortable in office (not power) and have forsaken principle for expediency and lining of pockets.
It was only a couple of Sundays ago that Zimbabwe's independent Sunday Paper, Trevor Ncube's Standard, published a piece in which ambassadors from Southern African states complained that the MDC had now gone quite on the "outstanding issues" that go back to the beginning of the Inclusive Government.
The SADC emissaries further lamented that the MDC parties appeared to be waiting for SADC to become the opposition in Zimbabwe and start pestering Mugabe about the long outstanding issues.
We have not heard a squeak about Generals and certain Security Council meetings that never happened even though they were said to be an outstanding issue.
But we are on these sanctions being lifted........for Mugabe and ZANU PF, they should never have been put in place at all, so there is no reason to now adopt a different attitude to the West.
The sanctions have not been removed, they have been "Suspended", which means they can be reinstated and Mugabe is certain that they would be, should he win the election.
To make matters even worse, Mugabe and 10 of his top table have been left on the sanctions list.
This means no one at all in ZANU PF will dare to suggest a change of policy towards the EU as a result of this suspension of some sanctions. Anyone who does so will be seen as a traitor who is now happy to cast Mugabe aside for a chance to shop at Harrods and stay at the Dorchester.
Which means the next elections will pretty much be more of the same. (Coincidentally, the 2008 elections were the most peaceful in Zimbabwe since the MDC was formed, it was the run off so terrified the country that you could fear silently blowing like a breeze in the streets of Harare).
Those who think they can get another Inclusive Government are dreaming.
Mugabe, with nothing to lose, since no one in the world, he says, is ever going to change whatever they think of him, will be determined to bring back the Imperial Presidency he enjoyed before the Inclusive Government.
The growth that Zimbabwe is currently experiencing which everyone says will suffer this year as a result of the election will in fact get stronger. Those of us in Zimbabwe see no let up in new businesses coming onto the scene, South African investors remain pretty keen and are upping stakes they already have.
With the stabilisation of the economy ( a couple of friends of mine are actually sending money to relatives in London for upkeep!), the biggest threat that faced ZANU PF has markedly receded. Just ask the Heritage Foundation, Westminister Foundation and other western organisations that have recently released figures saying Mugabe is now more popular than Tsvangirai.
What now needs to be strengthened in Zimbabwe are institutions that police against corruption, avarice and other vices that keep typical African countries poor even as they sit on vast mineral wealth.
That job will have to be an African one. No one in Africa will be afraid to be seen to be standing against these vices.
As for sanctions, I can assure you it is all a sideshow, Mugabe has not even bothered to comment.
I expect he almost certainly will by the time Independence Day comes in about three weeks from now, when he makes the obligatory insults to the West in his Independence Day address at the National Sports Stadium or some such venue.
Life, in other words, goes on.