The European Union is preparing to expand the list of Zimbabwean officials who are barred from traveling to EU countries. Tendai Maphosa has more in this report for VOA from London.
European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg have issued a statement expressing strong concern at what they called the rapidly deteriorating human rights, political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.
As a result, the statement says the Union will add more names to the 100 plus visa ban list. The targeted sanctions were imposed in 2002 on President Robert Mugabe and senior members of his government and ruling ZANU-PF party in response to alleged human rights abuses.
Besides stopping those on the list from traveling to EU countries, the sanctions also target their assets. An embargo on arms sales to Zimbabwe is also in place.
Earlier this month, five new names were added to the no visa list. The Reuters news agency reports the European Union may target senior police officers involved in the arrest of and alleged assault of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai last month.
Zimbabwe's government is faced with an unprecedented economic meltdown. The country has the highest inflation rate in the world, high unemployment, and food and other basics are in short supply. The Mugabe government blames what it calls the illegal EU and U.S. sanctions for its predicament. Sikhanyiso Ndlovu is Zimbabwe's Minister of Information.
"They use the term targeted sanctions; it is a smokescreen to say they are a targeted ban on travel or ban on any investment by individuals," he said. "We do not have investment in any of the European countries or Britain or America. The people of Zimbabwe are the ones who are made to suffer by these sanctions, because we cannot have access [to] foreign currency to import the commodities we need. Investment, companies outside, countries that want to deal with us, they have been ordered not to invest in Zimbabwe; those are the sanctions I am talking about. Inflation has gone up because of the sanctions, there were shortages but now as government we have put in place import substitution so that we do not depend on imports."
But analysts say while there has been a decrease in non-humanitarian aid and a reduction in foreign direct investment, the Zimbabwean government's mismanagement is behind the country's economic meltdown. Professor Stephen Chan of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London spoke to VOA on the topic.
"All European countries follow an aid ethical policy, in other words aid is now targeted towards governments that observe certain criteria so its not just Zimbabwe where aid flows have diminished," he explained. "The other thing about foreign direct investment is very simple, a commercial one; no one is going to invest in Zimbabwe, because no one can get a return for their money, it is just a lost proposition. When you have got 2,000 percent inflation it does not matter how much money you can repatriate, because you are not going to have any profits."
Chan added that there is a consensus among European and African governments that only a major policy change by the Zimbabwean government or a change of senior government personnel would lead to a change of the European Union's stance towards Zimbabwe.