Sweden’s development aid minister Gunilla Carlsson will however meet with President Mugabe as well as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as an EU delegation heads to Harare on Saturday.
“I want to be clear: the EU is not prepared (for) lifting the restrictions we have on Zimbabwe,” said Reinfeldt, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
“It is not the restrictions that are creating problems in Zimbabwe, it is the mismanagement … not respecting of human rights,” he said in response to a question at a public address in Johannesburg.
South African President Jacob Zuma was undeterred by Swedish intransigence and said that he would continue to urge the EU to drop sanctions against its neighbour Zimbabwe.
“We are saying both of us understand where SADC comes from and where the EU
comes from. But we are saying precisely because of that we need to engage so
we can try and persuade the EU to lift sanctions,” said Zuma.
The leaders were addressing journalists after talks. The Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt is on his first state visit to South Africa and is the first head of state to visit the country’s new administration.
Reinfeldt has said the European Union will not lift sanctions despite calls by the Southern African Development Community to do so.
“We are here of course to listen and we know the importance of President Zuma and SADC to get the global political agreement respected and fully in place,” said Reinfeldt.
Zuma said lifting sanctions would help push forward the process of reaching stability in Zimbabwe.
“Part of what has to happen is that a way should be opened for that agreement to work and one of them is the sanctions,” Zuma said of the unity deal between Mugabe and his former rival Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Once you have got sanctions there are things you cannot do in Zimbabwe, but if the sanctions are not there you give more scope for that agreement to be implemented. That is the point we are making,” said Zuma.
Reinfeldt and Zuma agreed that an EU visit to Zimbabwe this weekend was perfect timing and would allow the delegation to reflect on the situation and see what is happening on the ground.
“I think it is important for the EU… to get it from the horse’s mouth…so the EU could weigh its decision in relation to the decision what to do next in Zimbabwe,” said Zuma.
President Robert Mugabe has blamed the restrictions targeting him and his allies for his country’s woes although Zuma agreed concurred with Reinfeldt that Zimbabwe’s problems existed before the sanctions.
“I don’t think sanctions started the problems in the economy I think it was the Zimbabweans who undermined their own system. That got the economy in trouble.”