- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2002

JOHANNESBURG Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Zimbabwean opposition, pleaded yesterday for sanctions to be imposed on his country before the presidential election in March.
His call came as police arrested 22 members of his party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in Kwe Kwe city, after violent clashes with supporters of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) who had burned down an MDC office.
Mr. Tsvangirai said that after two years of "softly softly" diplomacy by Zimbabwe's neighbors, which had failed to stop President Robert Mugabe's abuse of the rule of law, it was time for genuine sanctions.
Targeted measures should be imposed immediately to freeze money and assets held overseas by Mr. Mugabe and his associates, he said, while South Africa should impose a fuel, transport and electricity blockade.
Mr. Tsvangirai told British Broadcasting Corp. television, "We are aware that smart sanctions, if they are immediately implemented, will have the personal effect on the leadership of ZANU-PF."
He encouraged South Africa, the regional superpower, to use its economic muscle against the Mugabe regime.
"I think [South Africa] will have to go it alone and do something effective on the ground," he said. "The threat to undermine the elections by the military and the president himself should send shock waves to South Africa.
"And South Africa should say, 'OK, under those circumstances we are going to cut fuel, we are going to cut transport links.'"
British Prime Minister Tony Blair telephoned South African President Thabo Mbeki on Saturday night to discuss the deepening political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
A spokesman for Mr. Blair said, "Both leaders take it seriously. It is clearly deteriorating in a way giving everyone cause for concern."
Mr. Tsvangerai's remarks won the backing of South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance. Its leader, Tony Leon, said South Africa should withdraw its representatives at the conference of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the grouping of southern African states, to protest the body's powerlessness with regard to Zimbabwe.
Mr. Tsvangirai said that the SADC, which meets today in Malawi, was too incoherent and divided to have any genuine effect on the Zimbabwean situation.
The summit was lent a circus air as Mr. Mugabe arrived, claiming "God is on our side" before beginning a personal attack on Mr. Blair, accusing him of being a liar.
In Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, the Commercial Farmers Union said that 23 more white farmers had been forced off their land since Jan. 1 in another wave of land seizures by mobs loyal to Mr. Mugabe.

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