Mugabe 1, Britain 0.

Author:Misser, Francois

As the domestic opposition buffs and puffs to "kick him" out of office before his term ends in 2002 by impeaching him, President Robert Mugabe has won a significant, yet unreported, victory over one of his major foreign opponents, Britain.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), made up of European Union parliamentarians and representatives of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries, meeting in Brussels on 12 October, gave Britain what amounted to a "telling off" over Zimbabwe's land issue.

The JPA unanimously adopted a motion tabled by representatives from Southern Africa, which called on Britain to honour its obligations under the 1989 Lancaster House agreement to fund the land acquisition and resettlement process in Zimbabwe.

After a stormy debate, the motion was overwhelmingly supported by a majority of the ACP states.

The Namibian MP, Kaire Mbuede, said Zimbabwe's current economic crisis had something to do with the failure to resolve its land reform issue.

He was supported by Robert Davies from South Africa who urged Britain to live up to its responsibilities over the Zimbabwe land issue, and added that the South African government would do all it could to help Zimbabwe overcome its current economic crisis.

The Kenyan MP, Darius Mbela, agreed whole-heartedly. He said the people of Southern Africa were much better placed to judge the situation in Zimbabwe than European MPs.

The ACP-EU Joint Assembly has only a consultative role, as it is mainly concerned with the cooperation between the two blocks. But its vote on 12 October dealt a heavy blow to Britain which wanted the Assembly to censure President Mugabe and his land reform policy.

The British MEPs, John Bowis and Martin Callanan (Conservative Party), and Glenys Kinnock (Labour) tried in vain to woo the Assembly to adopt a text which called on the Zimbabwean government to "reconsider its policy of fast track resettlement", and described the seizure of commercial farmland as "a further violation of the rule of law".

The British had also urged the Assembly to declare Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections in June "nor free and fair" because of the "high level of violence and intimidation" that preceded them. They also wanted the Assembly to condemn the Zimbabwean police searches on the opposition MDC offices in Harare on 15 September.

But the Assembly would not be moved, especially the ACP states. Instead of condemnation, the Assembly said the outcome of the Zimbabwean...

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