From Patrick Chitumba in Victoria Falls
THE United Kingdom has pledged to continue assisting the Southern Africa Development Community which is now under the chairmanship of President Mugabe.
In an interview soon after President Mugabe assumed the chairmanship of the regional body at the 34th Sadc Heads of State and Government Summit here yesterday, British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Deborah Bronnert said London would not dictate the leadership of Sadc.
“Well it is up to Sadc to decide who the leadership of Sadc should be and clearly that’s a matter for Sadc. I am sure that our relationship with Sadc will continue. We have always worked with Sadc and nothing will change,” she said.
Ms Bronnert said London had always been supportive of the regional bloc, adding that it would be business as usual.
“I am sure we will work with it (Sadc) as we have done in the past.”
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa said it was a good development that Britain was recognising Sadc under the leadership of President Mugabe.
“It is a good development that Britain has said it is going to support Sadc under President Mugabe. It marks a new era since London has been hostile to Harare.”
Ambassador Mutsvangwa said Britain should now work on total lifting of the illegal sanctions which he said were serving no purpose at all.
“It would be an act of goodwill if Britain would now move towards removing the sanctions it imposed on us and it will be very good if Britain would also urge America to lift the sanctions.
“President Barack Obama has also said there was a need to revisit the sanctions issue since they are harming the ordinary people. So we really appreciate the stance by Britain as said by their representative to Zimbabwe,” he said.
President Mugabe has taken over leadership of Sadc following his election as Deputy Chairman at the 2013 Summit in Malawi. He will lead the bloc under the theme: Sadc Strategy for Economic Transformation – Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition.
The vision seeks to help steer Southern Africa towards sustainable socio-economic development on the strength of its vast natural resources. The region leads precious metal, diamond and copper production, which accounts for two-thirds of Africa’s mineral exports by value.
However, its citizens are yet to benefit significantly from these resources, 90 percent of which are being exported raw.
Britain and her allies imposed illegal sanctions on Harare – a situation that has led to the meltdown of the economy even if it says they are targeted.
President Mugabe has been vocal in calling on Britain to remove the sanctions which have had negative effects on our economy.