EU partially lifts sanctions
The European Union yesterday suspended illegal sanctions on eight officials — among them service chiefs, politicians and war veterans — but kept President Mugabe and the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe on the embargoed list. This comes as a visiting EU parliamentary delegation yesterday said it felt embarrassed to be part of the bloc that imposed illegal sanctions on a sovereign nation.
Zimbabwe’s head of delegation to the African-Caribbean-Pacific and EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Cde Makhosini Hlongwane, also described any claims by the EU that it was lifting travel bans as deceptive because what the country needed was an end to economic sanctions.
The five-member EU delegation was in Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission on the impact of sanctions.
Led by European People’s Party vice president Dr Mario David of Portugal, they met senior Government officials, business leaders, farmers and health officials. Other legislators were from Italy, Romania and Spain.
As the delegation wound up its mission, the 28-nation EU announced it was removing travel bans on all individuals except the First Family.
Those removed from the travel ban list are Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Army Commander Lieutenant-Gen Phillip Valerio Sibanda, Air Force Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, intelligence supremo Brigadier-Gen (Retired) Happyton Bonyongwe, police boss Commissioner-Gen Augustine Chihuri, Zimbabwe Prisons boss Major-Gen Paradzai Zimondi, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Cde Didymus Mutasa, and war veterans leader Cde Jabulani Sibanda.
The sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe in 2002 after Zimbabwe embarked on the Fast-Track Land Reform Programme and in an attempt to influence that year’s Presidential elections, which President Mugabe won nonetheless.
Relations have somewhat thawed in recent years despite the maintenance of sanctions, after President Mugabe dispatched a ministerial re-engagement committee to initiate dialogue with the EU.
Now the EU is contemplating ways of directly working with Government, starting in 2015, rather than coming through NGOs.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo pointed out that there was nothing to celebrate about piecemeal lifting of sanctions.
“This is all nonsensical, we don’t accept these half measures. We want total and irrevocable removal of sanctions.
“They cannot keep the President on the sanctions list. What has President Mugabe done? We have said we are open to talking to the EU but they have to remove those sanctions, they are hurting our people,” he said.
In a statement before the EU’s announcement, Cde Hlongwane said the bloc was determined to maintain sanctions, judging from what the group’s foreign policy chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, said recently.
“Reading Baroness Ashton’s statement correctly, shows one that the Council of Ministers have already made a decision to remove names from one barrel of the full gamut of sanctions, namely the Common Security Framework sanctions, essentially the travel bans, without touching on the other barrel, the Article 96 sanctions, essentially the economic sanctions,” said Cde Hlongwane.
Speaking to journalists in Harare yesterday, EU Parliamentary delegation head Dr David said deliberations with various groups left them with no doubt that sanctions should be lifted unconditionally.
“It is a pity on my part, and I am embarrassed and regret that we did it, because we treated Zimbabwe in a much more unfair way than we treated our other partners,” Dr David said.
The EU lawmakers will give feedback to the bloc’s Parliament of 766 MPs in Belgium this week.
Dr David said it would be a shame to the British if Mr Cameron boycotted the EU-Summit.
He added that in any case, Mr Cameron’s absence would not stop the meeting.
“If he does not show up, then the British should be ashamed of having a Prime Minister who does not show up when he has to represent his people in a major international conference,” Dr David said.
“It will be hypocrisy on their part. Remember Gordon Brown did that in 2007 at a Summit in Lisbon and he was the one to lose.
“We would like all the invited Heads of State to be present and we will welcome President Mugabe when he comes because we want co-operation with his country.”
On April 2-3, the EU and AU meet in Brussels to discuss strategic priorities between the two continents.