Zimbabwe: Canada imposes sanctions

JOHANNESBURG, 14 May (IRIN) - Canada announced on Sunday that it was imposing sanctions against Zimbabwe. The announcement followed last week's mistreatment of a senior Canadian diplomat in Harare by war veterans.
Ottawa said in a statement that it would suspend new development aid, cut off export financing and prevent Zimbabwe from taking part in Canadian-financed military training exercises. It said it would also maintain an existing arms embargo.

"I am very concerned at the mistreatment of our High Commissioner in Zimbabwe and the harassment and confinement of Canadian citizens in that country. This campaign of invasions of businesses and non-governmental organisations has apparently been condoned by the government of Zimbabwe," John Manley, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in the statement. "Several days have passed since the government of Canada alerted the government of Zimbabwe of our concerns and there has been no appropriate response."

On May 4, the Canadian manager of CARE International in Zimbabwe, Dennis O' Brien, was forcibly removed from his offices in Harare and taken by a group of war veterans to the headquarters of the ruling ZANU-PF party. The Canadian High Commission, James Hall, attempted to intervene and was manhandled in the process.

Canada said in the statement that it would continue to work through the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) "to bring international attention to bear on the problems of governance in Zimbabwe".

CARE International evacuated family members from Zimbabwe after last week's attack. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) last month also pulled families out of the country because of what it said was a campaign of harassment and threats against them by the war veterans.

The South African High Commission in Harare said at the weekend that would begin compiling a register of South African companies operating in Zimbabwe. Notices placed by the high commission in Zimbabwean newspapers said the exercise would begin on Tuesday and end on Thursday. A spokesman for the high commission was quoted as saying that the move was a "security measure". Two weeks ago war veterans invaded a number of South African businesses and assaulted two executives.

Meanwhile, news reports said on Monday that war veterans raided the Austrian-run SOS Children's Villages at the weekend and demanded money for a clerk who had been fired for stealing. "Three war veterans came to my offices in Harare yesterday demanding a severance package for the clerk. They have threatened to come back today," Ian Kluckow, the head of SOS Children's Villages group was quoted as saying. SOS, funded by public donations from Europe, is the country's biggest child welfare organisation and looks after more than 500 abandoned children.

"This is not politics, it's just pure thuggery. This kind of behaviour is damaging Zimbabwe's image internally and, of course, externally," Kluckow said.


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