By Workers Daily UK
EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on Monday, February 18, have decided to impose sanctions on the government of Zimbabwe, including a travel ban on leading members of the government and freezing of their assets held abroad. This decision of the EU was taken following a long and spiteful campaign by the British government against the government of Zimbabwe and the weekend expulsion of Pierre Schori, the head of the EU observer team for the upcoming Zimbabwe election.
A spokesman for the Zimbabwe government explained that Pierre Schori was asked to leave the country after he entered the country on a tourist visa which prohibits the holder taking part in politics or taking up employment in that country. The spokesman further explained that once Mr Schori had gained entrance to the country, he declared that he was the head of the EU observer team and began making political statements. Consequently, the government of Zimbabwe asked him to leave the country as he was in breach of his visa conditions.
The EU, in particular the British government, and the US have been issuing threats against Zimbabwe for some time now especially in regard to the government’s proposed land reform. However, the full colonialist nature of this pressure being exerted on Zimbabwe is apparent from the EU’s demand for unhindered activity for its “election observer team” and “free access for the international media”. There is nothing in international law which gives the EU or any of the other big powers the right to make such a demand of an independent state. It is, in fact, clear evidence of the new attempts of the big powers to launch a new colonisation of Africa, to reverse even those gains which the mass of the African people shed their blood throughout the 20th century to achieve.
The Cotonou Agreement
The General Affairs Council of the EU, when it decided to impose “targeted sanctions” on Zimbabwe, referred to the Cotonou Agreement. It said that on January 28, “the Council agreed that the consultations under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement would be closed and targeted sanctions implemented if the Government of Zimbabwe prevented the deployment of an EU election observation mission, or if it prevented the mission from operating effectively, or prevented the international media from having free access to cover the election, or there was a serious deterioration in the situation on the ground, in terms of a worsening of the human rights situation or attacks on the opposition, or if the election was assessed as not being free and fair”. As so often in the relation of the big powers, including the EU, with other states, one is left asking whether they are not deliberately creating a pretext, presenting ultimata which cannot or will not be met.
Be that as it may, the Cotonou Agreement replaces the neo-colonial Lomé Convention, which dates from 1975, between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. The new EU-ACP agreement was signed on June 23, 2000, in Cotonou, Benin. The context of this agreement was the historic turning point (the EU uses these words) that the world had been going through, and in particular the need to redefine international relations during the 1990s. Thus the EU laid stress on its “external action”. It stated, “Due to major upheavals on the international stage, socio-economic and political changes in the ACP countries, and the spreading of poverty, with instability and potential conflict as its consequences, a rethinking of co-operation had however become necessary.”
Thus the Cotonou Agreement represents a new 20-year “Partnership Agreement” between the European Community and the 77 ACP states.
On the one hand, it reflects the EU’s aspirations to be a leading superpower in world affairs. An official press release states, “this agreement will shape a significant part of the European Union’s dealings with the rest of the world. It also reflects the Union’s reach both as the leading international trading partner and the world’s main provider of official development assistance”. It also points out, for instance, “In the Caribbean region, Europe remains a necessary partner and a useful counterweight to powerful neighbours.”
Crucially, however, it also reflects the drive of the old European powers to affirm and impose the neo-liberal models of society (which they claim are universally applicable and mandatory) on the ACP states. To quote from the official press release again: “The Agreement is based on respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, and on good governance. It also establishes special consultation procedures and appropriate sanctions for dealing with human rights violations and serious corruption.
“The partnership aims to encourage greater participation by civil society, the private sector and trade unions. This new approach will help advance democratic processes and transparency, while fuller information and consultation should ensure that co-operation projects prove more viable than in the past.”
It is to be noted that this “new approach” links the advance of “democratic processes” with ensuring “co-operation projects prove more viable”.
The press release spells out what this is to mean for the economies of the ACP states: “Regional integration among the ACP States themselves is also an important objective, and can facilitate their integration into the global economy.” It continues: “These agreements will be defined as part of a broader strategy to improve the ACP States’ ability to attract private sector investment.”
It is under these signboards that the new relations of exploitation, of master and slave, of imperialist globalisation, are being developed by the EU big powers with the African, Caribbean and Pacific nations, and that the present developments in relation to Zimbabwe are unfolding.
SADC Parliamentary Forum
The General Affairs Council of the EU, when it decided to impose “targeted sanctions” on Zimbabwe, said: “The restrictive framework imposed by the Government of Zimbabwe contradicts the international standards for free and fair elections, as agreed by SADC Parliamentary Forum.” For the information of our readers, we are reproducing an extract from an article on the SADC Parliamentary Forum by Kondwani Chirambo and Pamela Chinaka of the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), Cape Town, Monday, April 17, 2000.
“A historic assembly of 140 parliamentarians from member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) opened here to lay ground for what many see as an important step towards accelerating the integration of decision-making structures in the 14 countries constituting Africa’s most vibrant economic bloc.
“Convened by the SADC Parliamentary Forum, an association of national assembly structures in southern Africa, the conference is debating the political-economic challenges facing the continent and the possibility of setting up a regional parliament to further the ideals of integration and democratisation.
“Deputy South African President Jacob Zuma, delivering his keynote speech at the South African parliament building, said the conference should contribute to the debate on how SADC should position itself in a world of ‘accelerating globalisation’.
“Zuma prodded members, including Speakers of the national assemblies, to determine whether parliaments were playing the roles expected of them in upholding democracy and defending fundamental human rights in southern Africa.
“‘Have they been able to stand up to the executive to avoid abuse of parliament itself? Have they been able to prevent wars and massacres…’, he asked.
“African parliaments had not taken sufficient advantage of the Organisation of African Unity(OAU) resolution to create an African Court to ensure the observance of human rights on the continent but he hoped that SADC would begin to seriously discuss the matter during the on-going debate on the role parliaments.
“Zuma said the Parliamentary Forum, formed in 1996, provided a vehicle for interaction between parliaments and civil society but added that questions should be asked whether parliaments were accountable to the electorate. He called for openness in carrying forward the debate on democratisation and integration.
“Zuma however expressed concern about continuing conflict on the continent, citing it as an impediment to development and unity as envisioned by leaders calling for an African renaissance.
“‘Can we succeed in having Africa reborn in the face of conflict; of massacres…certainly it can only remain a slogan,’ he said.
“Southern Africa currently grapples with two major conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has sucked in six other African countries, and Angola, a 25 year old civil war impacting on many of its neighbours.
“He urged parliamentarians to seek African antidotes to African problems, saying traditional decision-making structures should be integrated into the modern parliamentary system to reflect a truly indigenous approach to law making. South Africa was currently formulating a policy on traditional leadership relating this to existing western style parliament.
“Most countries on the continent had adopted the Westminster parliamentary model but needed to focus on systems relevant to their own African conditions, he said.”
Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe constitute SADC.
The conference referred to was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Representatives of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA) and Non Governmental Organisations were present as observers.
SARDC is an independent institution involved in the collection, analysis and dissemination of information about the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and its member states.
Southern African Research and Documentation Centre runs a “Sustainable Democracy” programme, which is a regional information programme on democracy and governance which aims to collect and disseminate information, and to share regional expertise within the 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC), with the vision of strengthening sustainable democratic development. It is based on the perspective that, “Democracy is more than just an election. It is a culture that cannot be imposed but must be developed from within.”
The central objective is to assist governments, organisations and people of the SADC region to move quickly and effectively toward the empowerment and involvement of people in development, through collection and provision of relevant and accessible information, based on national and regional perspectives – and through capacity-building for collecting, storing and accessing information on a sustainable basis.
SARDC’s Sustainable Democracy Programme is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Southern Africa Regional Democracy Fund (SARDF).
Netavisen 20. februar 2002