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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 19:03 GMT
Africa 'passes' Zimbabwe test
Thabo Mbeki (left) and Robert Mugabe (right)
The Commonwealth decision to suspend Zimbabwe for a year means Africa has overcome one of the first tests for its economic recovery plan, Nepad.

What is also on trial is the African economy, (since) without democracy there's no future for Nepad

David Coltart MP
Zimbabwe opposition
Despite strong pressure Western donors US and UK, Zimbabwe's neighbours, most notably South Africa and Nigeria, had been relucant to condemn the re-election of President Robert Mugabe.

But in Washington, power brokers in Congress had been linking the success of the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) to South Africa's attitude to the elections in Zimbabwe.

"This is the immediate test," Ed Royce, chairman of the US Congress African sub-committee told the BBC's World Business Report.

On trial

Politicians from Zimbabwe's defeated Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party agree.

South African President Thabo Mbeki is "desperately looking for a middle road" so that Nepad can get off the ground, said opposition MP David Coltart.

"What is also on trial is the African economy, (since) without democracy there's no future for Nepad."

But a South Africa goverment spokesperson denied that Zimbabwe had threatened the plans success.

"People saying that Nepad will not fly because of Zimbabwe, it is not true," said presidential spokesperson Bheki Khumalo.

The decision by the Commonwealth group of 54 nations to suspend cames after a meeting in London between the leaders of South Africa, Nigeria and Australia.

Ed Royce, Chairman, Congress African sub-committee
"This is the immediate test."
See also:

19 Mar 02 | Africa
Commonwealth suspends Zimbabwe
18 Mar 02 | Africa
Mbeki faces Zimbabwe test
17 Mar 02 | Africa
Mugabe pledges rapid land reform
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