SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki and his Nigerian counterpart Olusegun Obasanjo have come under renewed pressure to confront the Zimbabwe crisis in the aftermath of the G8 summit in Evian,
Although Mbeki and his African colleagues have claimed that the Zimbabwe situation is not a test case for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), G8 leaders this week pressed them further to resolve the issue.
British prime minister Tony Blair said the meeting of the world’s most industrialised nations, also attended by African leaders promoting Nepad, discussed measures which Mbeki and Obasanjo are taking to address the situation.
Mbeki and Oba-sanjo were in Zimbabwe last month to try and break the political deadlock which lies at the heart of the economic crisis.
Briefing theHouse of Commons on Wednesday on the outcome of the G8 meeting early this week, Blair said the Zimbabwe issue featured at the summit in the context of Nepad.
“G8 leaders also took the opportunity to discuss with President Mbeki and other African leaders the good progress we have made in partnership with Nepad leaders over the last year in implementing the African Action Plan launched in Kananaskis (during last year’s G8 meeting in Canada),” he said.
“Consistent with this African-led initiative we discussed the steps they are taking to resolve the current appalling crisis in Zimbabwe. We condemned the action taken by the Zimbabwean authorities on Monday against their own people and called on the Zimbabwean government to accept its citizens’ right to demonstrate against the regime peacefully.”
In their communiqué, G8 leaders expressed concern at mounting repression in Zimbabwe.
South Africa has only made muted protests against human rights abuses in the country, while Nigeria has said virtually nothing.
“We are concerned about reports of further violence by the authorities in Zimbabwe against their own people,” the G8 said.
“We called on the government of Zimbabwe to respect the right to peaceful demonstration. Consistent with the fundamental principles of the Nepad partnership, we welcomed the contribution of other African states to promoting a peaceful resolution of the crisis and a prosperous and democratic future for the people of Zimbabwe.”
Although Nepad was supposed to take centre stage at the Evian summit, G8 leaders rebuffed French attempts to make concrete commitments.
Mbeki and his counterparts were reminded that good governance, not only in their own countries but everywhere in Africa, was essential to make Nepad work.