THERE has been relatively little news from Zimbabwe in the past two or three months but the country's future was at the top of the agenda of the meeting of the 15-country Southern African Development Community (SADC) earlier this week. The headlines from the meeting were of a call for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe, interpreted as a victory for President Mugabe. But the small print of reports shows a rather different story. SADC played a leading role in setting-up the power-sharing government which theoretically runs Zimbabwe today but it is dissatisfied with the progress being made by Mugabe and his prime minister, the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. South Africa is the current chairman of SADC and a statement by the country's Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, included a warning to Zimbabwe that it will not get a second chance “to pull itself out of the morass it finds itself in.”

A meeting between President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and the European Union is due to be held shortly; it will be Jacob Zuma's first diplomatic encounter outside Africa and it takes place against the background that the EU is South Africa's principal export market. The problem of Zimbabwe is likely to be raised by Mr Zuma and he will probably urge the EU to set an example by lifting its sanctions. It is certainly true that Zimbabwe's efforts to encourage investment are hampered by the presence of sanctions.


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