Harare: Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Sunday he would not tolerate persecution of Members of Parliament or violation of the law by President Robert Mugabe, after an EU delegation called for implementation of power sharing.
Swedish International Development Minister Gunilla Carlsson said targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe would not be lifted until human rights abuses ended in a country with a ruined economy that needs billions of dollars for recovery.
Speaking at a rally to mark the 10th anniversary of the formation of his MDC party, Tsvangirai said he would not stand by as Mugabe's ZANU-PF "continues to violate the law, persecutes our Members of Parliament, spreads the language of hate, invades our productive farms ... ignores our international treaties."
The visit by EU Aid and Development Commissioner Karel De Gucht and the Swedish EU presidency is the first since the EU began targeted sanctions in 2002 against members of Mugabe's government for what it said were human rights violations.
The EU delegation said relations with Zimbabwe were entering a "new phase" but full cooperation hinged on the implementation of power-sharing.
"Now we're entering a new phase (of relations). The political agreement was an important step forward, but much needs to be done. The key to re-engagement is the full implementation of the political agreement," said Carlsson.
On Saturday, Mugabe welcomed the EU delegation with "open arms," as he put it; a change in tone which may suggest he is more willing to cooperate with Western countries he has blamed for Zimbabwe's economic decline.
Tensions in government
But Tsvangirai highlighted tensions in the unity government, which had raised hopes that the old foes could work together and rebuild the economy.
"I have done my part to promote reconciliation in this country. Even after winning the election, I have compromised for the sake of Zimbabwe. But please, don't misjudge me. You misjudge me at your own peril," he said.
The deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai has been beset with problems as their parties accuse each other of stalling the process by not fully implementing the deal.
Zimbabwe says it needs USD 10 billion in foreign reconstruction aid. Western nations are reluctant to release cash without further political and economic reform promised as part of the power-sharing pact, called the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
"The restrictive measures were there because of (human rights) violations. We cannot fully re-engage until we see the Global Political Agreement is being implemented fully. There's more that needs to be done here," Carlsson told a news conference when asked about the possibility of lifting sanctions.
"We had reasons to raise very serious concerns, for example on media freedom and constitutional reforms. We still have a lot of reports of human rights violations, which are unacceptable."
The EU remains the main overall donor to Zimbabwe, having provided EUR 572 million (USD 829 million) in humanitarian aid to the country since 2002, despite the targeted sanctions.
To date, 203 people and 40 companies linked to the Mugabe government face travel and some financial restrictions within the 27-nation bloc.
Mugabe has long held his Western foes responsible for Zimbabwe's steep economic decline, saying sanctions were imposed as retaliation for the seizure of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to blacks.
First Published: Monday, September 14, 2009, 10:19