EU lifts sanctions on 6 ministers

HARARE - The European Union  yesterday removed six top Zanu PF ministers from the sanctions list as reward of an agreement by Zimbabwe’s ruling parties on a draft constitution and the announcement of a referendum on it.

However, the EU maintained its measures on President Robert Mugabe and some of his core inner cabal.

EU representative, Aldo Dell’ Ariccia, told a news conference yesterday that reasons for maintaining the embargo on Mugabe and his inner circle stem from the fact that they wanted to extract more reforms.

Webster Shamu, the minister of Media, Information and Publicity headlines the list of Mugabe’s ministers who can now travel to Europe.

Others are Tourism and Hospitality minister Walter Mzembi, minister of Environment and Natural Resources Francis Nhema, minister of State in the Vice President’s office Sylvester Nguni, minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development and Employment creation Sithembiso Nyoni and the ailing minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Herbert Murerwa.

The ministers join Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa and Foreign Affairs minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi whose travel bans were lifted last year because they were part of the Zimbabwe-EU re-engagement team.

The incremental suspension of sanctions by the EU is seen as rewarding Mugabe, who was able to reach a landmark deal with long- time rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the constitution making-process last month.

“The EU welcomes the agreement reached between the political parties in Zimbabwe on a final draft constitution and the announcement of a referendum,” said Arricia.

The 27-member EU bloc said the agreement on a referendum between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, “adds further momentum to the reform process.”

While the eight Zanu PF ministers’ assets in the EU will remain frozen, 19 people linked to Zanu PF who include Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao have been completely delisted.

A mellowing Mugabe, who has been preaching peace of late, has made a major climb-down from his earlier defiant assertions that the country would go for elections with or without a new constitution.

The EU yesterday promised to overhaul sanctions on Mugabe or re-apply the restrictive measures on the six ministers if the referendum is not free and fair.

Both Zanu PF and the two MDC formations, the governing political parties in the unity government, have declared that they would vote “Yes” in the referendum to be held on March 16 according to a government gazette.

A decision on suspending sanctions which were due to expire tomorrow has been delayed because of a disagreement between Britain and Belgium over lifting a ban on gold and diamonds mined in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Mining Development Company (ZMDC) which has a stake in all companies exploiting diamonds in Marange will remain on the sanctions list. Only Divine Home, a company linked to David Chapfika is the only entity which has been removed on the sanctions list. Chapfika has been completely delisted.

The EU first imposed sanctions in 2002 on February 18, including travel bans and an asset freeze on officials seen crushing the Zimbabwean people’s civil liberties.

The other 19 people who have been delisted from the sanctions are Edward Chapfika, former Manicaland governor Tinaye Chigudu, Tongesai Chipanga, former Zanu PF minister Shuvai Mahofa, one G Mashava and Gilbert Moyo.

Others are Cephas Msipa, the former Midlands governor; S Mpabanga, C Muchono, Columbus Mudonhi, Bothwell Mugariri, Isaac Mumba and S. Mutsvunguma.

Retired Major General Michael Nyambuya, former minister of Health and Child Welfare David Parirenyatwa, retired Major General Richard Ruwodo, and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao are also off the list.

Predictably, the late vice president John Nkomo and minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Stan Mudenge were also delisted.

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