NewsSouthern AfricaZimbabwe: A cautious celebration of Brexit  


Posted on Monday, 27 June 2016 12:12

Zimbabwe: A cautious celebration of Brexit  

By Nqobile Bhebhe

Photo©Yorgos Karahalis/AP/SIPAZimbabwe is cautiously celebrating Britain's imminent exit from the European Union (EU) and is hoping it can get a better bloc from the 27-nation bloc, as it has long felt Whitehall was responsible for its crises.

President Robert Mugabe claims Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial power, was exerting undue influence on the EU, in what the southern African nation believes is a bilateral dispute.

Brexit is good for Africa, it is good for Zimbabwe

Britain slapped sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle after a violent land reform programme and the EU followed suit after its election observer mission was kicked out of the country on the eve of the disputed 2002 presidential elections.

In recent years, however, the EU has been reviewing the sanctions annually, but Zimbabwean authorities insist relations can only normalise if "Britain removes the first family from sanctions".

While Mugabe insists Britain is responsible for the EU sanctions, and his government is optimistic for a change of fortunes with the United Kingdom on its way out, it is highly unlikely there will be a major shift in relations between the bloc and Zimbabwe.

Mugabe's government says it will adopt a "wait-and-see attitude". Foreign Affairs secretary, Joey Bimha says the bloc should adopt a bold policy shift on Zimbabwe.

"We will wait and see developments after this," he told state media.

"It is not something we can make a judgement on at this point in time. In the EU, there were a number of countries that supported it (Britain) in maintaining those sanctions and those countries remain in the bloc and can still push a policy that the sanctions remain in place."

"It is not anything we can celebrate about in terms of removal of sanctions. Government will for now monitor the situation."

The EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme said it was too early to comment. "For the time being, we do not have comments to make," he said.

According to media reports, the dean of African diplomats and Democratic Republic of Congo ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mwanananga Mwawampanga says Brexit is good for the southern African nation.

"Briefly, I can say it might be sad for Britain and Europe, but Brexit is good for Africa, it is good for Zimbabwe," he said, without showing why this was so.

Government officials claim the standoff has cost Zimbabwe over $42 billion in potential revenue and has led to the economy contracting by over 40 per cent.

Zimbabwe has tried having the sanctions lifted in the past, even suing the EU unsuccessfully.

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