Europe and the U.S. should engage with Zimbabwe and lift sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his close aides after his July 31 election victory against a divided opposition, a senior South African official said.
The failure of outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change to unite with a breakaway faction of his party made Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front appear “stable and strong,” Lindiwe Zulu, South African President Jacob Zuma’s foreign policy adviser, said yesterday in an interview in Johannesburg. “Europe and America must stop this ’stop and watch’ approach that they have for Zimbabwe.”
Mugabe, 89, secured 61 percent 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 Tsvangirai in criticizing the conduct of the ballot.
Zulu also endorsed Mugabe’s program to force foreign and white-owned businesses to give black Zimbabweans or the government a controlling stake in their local units, saying “it is time that the economic benefits from our countries benefit Africans as well.”
Zulu had drawn public criticism from Mugabe for saying the vote should have been delayed because the electoral commission had only a month to prepare. Mugabe labelled her a “street woman.”
“Even though they were held in haste, President Robert Mugabe campaigns throughout his tenure,” Zulu said. “He knows the game, he understands it and he is sharp.”
The opposition entered the election weakened by continued divisions. Talks between Tsvangirai, 61, and the leader of the rebel MDC faction, Welshman Ncube, broke down before the election, undermining the opposition’s support.
The 15-nation Southern African Development Community and the African Union endorsed the vote after their observers said there was no repeat of the violence that marred elections in 2008.
Mugabe on Aug. 25 threatened to target Western firms in a response to continued U.S. and U.K. sanctions.
William Hague, foreign secretary of former colonial power Britain, said he had “grave concerns” about the conduct of the election. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the vote “deeply flawed” and said it didn’t represent a “credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people.”
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