Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
LONDON - Britain said yesterday it wanted to see further progress on human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe before the European Union could lift sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his allies.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown defended sanctions on Zimbabwe after talks with President Jacob Zuma, who has called for them to be lifted. Zuma played down a controversy caused by comments he made just before he left for a pomp-filled state visit to Britain in which he accused the British of believing they were superior.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, regularly accuses the British and their Western allies of ruining the Zimbabwean economy through sanctions.
Some British media had by yesterday toned down their controversial coverage of Zuma's first UK state visit, but instead turned on him for breaches of protocol and royal etiquette. At the same time, many South African newspapers, often critical of his presidency and his past, rallied around Zuma in their editorials.
The Daily Mail ran an article by Stephen Robinson on Tuesday which called Zuma a "sex-obsessed bigot" and a "vile buffoon" with accompanying pictures of him in traditional Zulu attire. The usually guarded Zuma broke his silence on this and other reports on his polygamy by complaining he had never disparaged anyone else's culture.
Without commenting directly on Robinson's piece, or apologising, the Daily Mail accused Zuma of an "attack" that had "wrecked his advisers' attempts to coach him about the finer points of royal etiquette" when he commented on the articles.
With continued rumblings on breaches of royal etiquette and mention of an "unusual double handshake", the publication complained that the men in the Zuma entourage had wandered around Buckingham Palace wearing "football-style scarves in the South African colours over their suits, the women chatted noisily on their cellphones and used them to take pictures of the furnishings".
The Guardian online said Zuma's arriving in "sensible attire" of dark suit and shoes showed that he was a "potent figure on the international stage", in spite of his controversies.
It went on to describe him as head of one of the most important developing countries in the world, the pre-eminent regional power-broker, and a man who could help solve Britain's quandary over Zimbabwe.
In an article headlined "Zuma visit: Thanks for the show, cultural imperialists!" the UK Independent complained of Zuma's "scathing attack on the British" and said: "Rather than stick to the protocols of a state visit (pomp, splendour and no criticism of either the host or visiting nation) the South African President clearly felt compelled to speak out against what he perceived to be British cultural snobbery".
However, a number of newspaper editors in South Africa rallied behind the president. Business Day's Peter Bruce found it "appalling" to watch Zuma's reception from sections of the British media. - Sapa