Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe  (file photo)
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (file photo)

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says the extension of sanctions by the European Union is punishment for his  land-reform program. 

Reacting to the European Union's announcement Tuesday that travel bans on him and ranking members of his party would be extended for 12 months, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said he was not at all surprised by the move.  He said those who imposed the measures do not want any country in the developing world to make any meaningful developmental strides.  

Mr. Mugabe told the media that Zimbabwe is a special case. "There is the issue of the land here which once upon a time they occupied and which we have repossessed," he said. "When they make those noises it is because they have lost that which they occupied illegally, which is now in our possession."

The European Union says the measures have been extended because of a lack of progress in the implementation of the agreement that brought about the national unity government, the so-called Global Political Agreement.  

The measures, imposed in 2002 for alleged human rights abuses by the the previous Mugabe government have proved to be a stumbling block to the full implementation of the agreement.  Mr. Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has said it will not make any more concessions until Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change calls for removal of the sanctions.

Mr. Mugabe disagreed that the recently announced law that requires foreign-owned companies to cede 51 percent of their companies to Zimbabweans would scare away badly needed investment from Zimbabwe.  "Forty-nine percent is a hell lot of equity, its only foolish ones who will say so, wise ones will take it up," he said.

He also said while Zimbabwe is adhering to the regulations of the Kimberley Process with regards to the sale of diamonds from the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe, the country could go it alone and sell the diamonds, in his words, "our own way anywhere."  Rights organizations have alleged widespread human-rights abuses against civilians by security forces in the diamond fields.