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    South Africa Called For Sanction Withdrawal On Zimbabwe

    South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
    South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has called for the lifting of sanctions against neighboring Zimbabwe. The ANC thought those who imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe during the rule of President Robert Mugabe would change their view after elections that were held in July, Lindiwe Zulu, a member of the party’s highest decision-making body and minister of small business development, told reporters in Johannesburg Tuesday.

    That’s “despite the challenges that came immediately after that with the deaths of some people,” she said. Zimbabwe is still subject to U.S. sanctions dating back to the rule of Mugabe, who stepped down in November 2017 and was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa. His government is facing the worst economic crisis since a hyperinflationary spiral a decade ago as the nation reels from an acute shortage of foreign exchange and fuel and surging food prices, which led to violent protests last week. The U.S. has said sanctions would be lifted only if Zimbabwe demonstrated “fundamental changes.” South Africa and Zimbabwe have close links because many of the estimated four million Zimbabweans who were driven away by the economy’s collapse under Mugabe live in South Africa.

    “We are concerned about what is happening in Zimbabwe,” Zulu said. “Zimbabwe is our neighbor and when a house is burning next door you don’t fold your hands and arms and say ‘it’s got nothing to do with me’.” South Africa has offered to use its influence with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to help broker a debt-clearance plan for Zimbabwe, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    Mthuli Ncube speaks during an interview in Davos on 22 Jan 2019: Photo/Simon Dawson.
    Zimbabwe’s finance minister vowed to press on with economic reforms that have triggered violent protests, as President Emmerson Mnangagwa urged talks with opposition parties to help stabilize the country. Consumers in the southern African nation are reeling from prices accelerating at the fastest pace since a hyperinflation episode a decade ago. Protesters poured onto the streets of the capital, Harare, and other cities last week after the government more than doubled fuel prices to the highest in the world.

    The reforms being implemented by the government are crucial to the government’s aims of reining in inflation, shrinking the budget deficit and settling arrears to creditors so that it can resume borrowing again, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said on Tuesday. “We want to show that we are making progress on the macro-economic front,” he said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “It’s painful, there are protests, but we have to stay the course.”

    Clashes between protesters and the security forces during a three-day nationwide strike last week left at least 12 people dead and hundreds of others injured. The violence forced Mnangagwa to cancel his planned attendance at the WEF and return home late Monday. On Tuesday, the president criticized security forces he said had been responsible for violence and misconduct and said they would be investigated. He also invited his opponents for talks about the economic crisis as he appealed for unity.

    “I invite leaders of all political parties as well as religious and civil leaders to set aside our differences and come together,” he said. “Let’s put the economy first.” Mnangagwa’s return came hours after the High Court in the capital ruled that Zimbabwe’s security minister, Owen Ncube, had exceeded his authority when he twice shut down Zimbabwe’s internet -- a move challenged by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Media Institute of Southern Africa. Full access to the internet was restored late Monday, MISA said in a statement.

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