EU renews ‘sanctions’ on Zimbabwe

By Thabani Zwelibanzi

The European Union (EU) has renewed its arms embargo on Zimbabwe and sanctions on the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) for one year and lifted restrictions on four individuals following the Council of the European Union meeting, the latest blow to the President Emmerson Mnangagwa administration, which was hopeful the measures would be lifted.

The European bloc did not say which individuals had been removed from the sanctions list, but in the past, they have said their restrictions target the late former president, Robert Mugabe and his family.

The EU decried the lack of substantial reforms, the further shrinking of democratic space and corruption, which it said have contributed to the current deteriorating humanitarian crisis and to the economic and social situation.

“The EU calls on the government to accelerate the political and economic reform process as a matter of urgency, for the benefit of its population,” the bloc said in a statement.

“Perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses should swiftly be brought to justice and the recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry should be implemented without further delay. 

“In addition, an inclusive national dialogue is key to finding structural and durable solutions to the challenges faced by Zimbabwe.”

Former South Africa president, Kgalema Motlanthe led a commission of inquiry into the killings of civilians following the July 2018 elections.

Among the recommendations were that those who were accused of being responsible for the killings should be prosecuted, but the government is yet to implement those recommendations.

Furthermore, the EU called for “inclusive national dialogue”, a clear indicator that it is not taking the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) seriously and believe dialogue between Mnangagwa and MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa could help extricate Zimbabwe from its socio-economic crisis.

The EU said sound political and economic governance are paramount if the business and investment climate in Zimbabwe is to be improved, and inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development are to be achieved.

The bloc insisted that the arms embargo, as well as the asset freeze against Zimbabwe Defence Industries, do not affect the Zimbabwean economy, foreign direct investment, or trade. 

“They are motivated by the EU’s intention to encourage a demonstrable commitment by the

Zimbabwean authorities to upholding the rule of law and human rights,” the EU said.

“The EU is ready to review the whole range of its policies at any time, when justified, based on

developments in the country. 

“The EU will seek increased collaboration with international partners, most importantly the African Union, SADC and its member countries, and international financial institutions, who can play a key role by supporting Zimbabwe in enabling an inclusive dialogue and in accelerating progress in reforms.”

On a positive note, the European bloc said it welcomes the resumption of a formal political dialogue in 2019, which it sees as a step towards a more constructive EU-Zimbabwe relationship.

The Zimbabwean government has engaged a number of western public relations to lobby the United States and the EU to drop sanctions against Zimbabwe, but it seems this is not working so far.

Zimbabwe has also engaged the African Union and the Southern African Development Community to lobby on its behalf to have the sanctions lifted.

Indications are that the United States will also renew sanctions against Zimbabwe, with the prospect of adding more individuals.

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