Richard North, 04/05/2006  

Well, some of the time we do, though not when it comes to shelling out money on projects in the Third World. This, incidentally, applies to the British government as much as the EU. It’s just the EU does more shelling out.

There is a road from Blantyre to Mozambique, which was built largely out of EU funds, being a vital highway for Malawi to trade and to receive foreign aid (mostly the latter, one suspects).

Despite protests from various human rights organizations, many of the courageously based in Malawi itself, the road has been renamed Robert Mugabe Road to honour the great freedom fighter, as he is described by various people in Malawi.

“Opposition Malawi Democratic Party leader Kamlepo Kalua also said it would be inappropriate to honour the Zimbabwean leader personally.

"It would be a serious oversight to decorate and honour a leader who is classified as an outright dictator," he told the Malawian Sunday Times.

"We can't have a leader who is demolishing people's houses without giving alternatives, using the intelligence and the army to arrest political opponents, honoured here."

He has since been arrested for his role in an alleged plot by Vice-President Cassim Chilumpha to topple President Mutahrika.”

The EU is a tad embarrassed (as it was when it transpired that EU money was being used to finance the publishing of anti-Semitic textbooks in Egypt) but there is little it can do.

It is hardly in a position to lecture Africans, after all. Despite the much trumpeted sanctions against Mugabe, his cronies, friends and relations, there is always some reason why one of them is allowed to come to a meeting in a European country.

According to the independent newspaper The Zimbabwean:

“In defiance of the EU travel ban on senior Zanu (PF) officials, the Belgian Embassy has granted a visa to enable Finance minister Herbert Murerwa to attend a meeting of ministers from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific in Brussels this week.

In January the EU extended for another 12 months a series of sanctions including an arms embargo and travel ban against various officials in protest against the Zanu (PF) regime's continued violation of human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

An embassy spokesman said the other EU countries had agreed that the visa be granted and that Murerwa would not meet Belgian officials.”

I doubt if that will bother Mr Murerwa very much.


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