Pro-Zimbabwe opposition British MP backs sanctions

Labour MP Kate Hoey of the "Grassroots Out" campaign, listens during a media interview an event in London, February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

A British parliamentarian Kate Hoey says targeted sanctions imposed on former president Robert Mugabe and his inner circle should remain in place until there is tangible evidence that the ruling Zanu PF party will in future respect the rule of law, conduct free and fair elections and respect people’s rights.

Hoey, who visited Zimbabwe under the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association before Zimbabwe held its harmonized elections on July 30th, says there is no need to remove the sanctions now as indications are that peace that prevailed in the country during the polls may not be long-lasting in the troubled southern African nation.

Hoey, a Labor Member of Parliament for Vaxhaul in London says there is no doubt that Zimbabwe recorded some political transformation during the past six months but what is needed is to see whether the change is permanent.

“In our report which we did we said that even if there was an election which could be proved to be slightly free and fairer we shouldn’t be instantly jumping into lifting sanctions because actually we needed to have caution and skepticism and whoever was elected needed to prove that the change that was, there was no doubt Zimbabwe changed over the last six months or so but we needed to see that real change was permanent and not just for the purpose of the election.

“.. And that is why any re-engagement with the current government has to be very, very careful and certainly to automatically lift all sanctions and treat Zimbabwe as a normal democratic open country at this stage would be premature.”

But Believe Gaule, a Zanu PF Central Committee member says his party is not surprised about the British lawmaker’s remarks.

“People are now able to tell that these people (British) have a hidden agenda. At first they said they want to measure, they want us to hold free and credible elections and this is what we have done as a party, as a government but they are now shifting goal posts.”

Zimbabwe’s harmonized elections were recently condemned by the Commonwealth but praised by the Southern African Development Community. The Commonwealth cited several irregularities, including the lack of transparency in the printing of ballot papers and provision of a voters’ roll as indications that the ruling party is not yet prepared to hold free, fair and credible elections.

The West imposed targeted sanctions on former president Robert Mugabe and his inner circle following claims of human rights violations and election rigging. – VOA