29 November 2002

ACP MPs slam Zimbabwe

Contrary to official reports that the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states unanimously agreed to boycott the just-aborted European Union/ACP parliamentary assembly in protest against Zimbabwe's exclusion, it has emerged that MPs from Botswana, Mozambique and Ghana distanced themselves from the ACP's position and condemned Zimbabwe for scuttling investment initiatives. The Zimbabwe Independent has learnt that MPs from the three countries on Monday afternoon strove to persuade other members of the ACP to accept the EU's decision to bar two Zimbabwean ministers from entering the EU parliamentary complex for the meeting. But South Africa, Cuba, Sudan and Haiti led the move to back Zimbabwe. Sources said while MPs from countries like Uganda, Ivory Coast and Senegal also criticised tyranny, it was those from Botswana, Ghana and Mozambique who were most forthright. According to the sources, delegates from the three countries reacted angrily to the 78-member ACP assembly co-president Adrien Houngbedji's call to have Zimbabwe's ministers allowed into the EU parliament.

Sources in Brussels said there was drama on Monday at the EU parliament with MPs from Ghana, Mozambique and Botswana lashing out at Minister of State for Enterprises and Parastatals, Paul Mangwana for provoking a confrontation. Ghana's Osei Prempeh spoke strongly against Zimbabwe and mocked its "anti-imperialist rhetoric" imploring it to "put your house in order" amid protests by Mangwana and MPs from South Africa and Cuba. Prempeh strove to convince other ACP countries to endorse the EU's decision arguing that from the inception of the Lome Convention to the Cotonou Agreement, ACP countries had refused to discuss human rights and democracy issues. Prempeh asked fellow ACP members not to "bury our heads in the sand". Botswana's head of delegation, Mrs Segogo, upheld the EU's decision and lashed out at President Robert Mugabe's regime for throwing spanners into the works of co-operation with the EU. "Botswana, Mozambique and Ghana all gave Zimbabwe a severe tongue-lashing, arguing that they were losing opportunities in multi-lateral bodies because of its misrule," said a diplomatic source from Brussels yesterday. "But Segogo was the most forthright as she wondered why Africans always waited to be reminded by Europeans of human rights.

Botswana has of late been liberal with home truths, accusing President Mugabe's regime of playing the spoiler in the region. Segogo blamed the deluge of Zimbabwean immigrants in her country on misrule in Zimbabwe.

Sources yesterday said delegates were appalled by Mangwana's conduct as he repeatedly interjected, accusing Segogo, whites and Prempeh of ganging up against Zimbabwe. Segogo and Prempeh's comments, however, did not go down well with the South African delegation led by MP Rob Davies which issued a statement saying it was "strongly opposed to the EU's attempts to exclude certain members of the Zimbabwean delegation" because such action flew in the face of the Cotonou Agreement. However, it is understood Davies was subsequently disowned by South African diplomats for associating South Africa too closely with countries like Haiti and Sudan. Prempeh this week confirmed his stance but referred the Independent to the EU for his exact remarks. (Zimbabwe Independent, Harare)

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