News / Africa

EU Renews Sanctions Against Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's ruling party ZANU-PF war veterans march past the US Embassy holding placards condemning sanctions against their government in Harare, Zimbabwe, Apr 23, 2010 (file photo)
Zimbabwe's ruling party ZANU-PF war veterans march past the US Embassy holding placards condemning sanctions against their government in Harare, Zimbabwe, Apr 23, 2010 (file photo)

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Peta Thornycroft

European Union sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and most of his colleagues in the ZANU-PF party have been renewed despite requests from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that they be abandoned.  The EU has lifted restrictions against 31 people, mostly wives of those on the sanctions list and a few minor political personalities.

Restrictions including visa bans and asset freezes remain on most ZANU-PF leaders and a number of state companies for another year.  The restrictions were first imposed in 2002 after violence accompanying presidential elections.

Three years ago, the EU and United States added state companies and a few private businesses and some business leaders who were not members of ZANU-PF to the list.

South African President Jacob Zuma and other leaders within SADC have asked the EU to lift the restrictions, saying they harm the regional group's ability to resolve the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

SADC is the guarantor of the political agreement which brought the two-year-old Zimbabwe unity government to power.

Zimbabwe political analyst Brian Raftopoulos said it was clear after recent violence, mostly against supporters of MDC and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare, that the EU would not lift sanctions.

"Clearly they are moving towards rethinking what the meaning of these sanctions are, and it was always predictable they would not remove them this time around specially because of the recent violence," said Raftopoulos.

He said the EU had engaged in deep debate about the usefulness of the sanctions and the effect they had on efforts to mediate the issues afflicting Zimbabwe's power-sharing government.

He said the EU had chosen a holding position.  Raftopoulos and other analysts are concerned about lack of progress of the SADC medaition.

"The problem of course, is that for the moment the SADC mediation doesn't seem to be moving very effectively," added Raftopoulos.

MDC finance minister Tendai Biti has said repeatedly that the restrictions against some of Zimabwbe's state companies should be lifted.  He said restrictions on some of these companies hurt the economy.

Mr. Mugabe says sanctions have caused misery to millions of Zimbabweans.

Zimbabwe trades normally with the EU and the United States.  Most businessmen in Zimbabwe say they want all the restrictions lifted.

Among those whose names have been removed from the EU list is Peter Chingoka, the long- standing boss of Zimbabwe cricket.

When the inclusive govenrment came to power, MDC education minister David Coltart, also responsible for sport, moved quickly to persuade most of the cricketing world to re-engage with Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe cricketers are now playing internationally.

So far neither the EU nor U.S. have disclosed what assets belonging to those on the list have been frozen by the sanctions.

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