The irony of EU's actions

HARARE - You could almost hear the tills in foreign bank accounts going ‘ka-ching, ka-ching’ when the news came out that 81 people were likely to be removed from the EU sanctions list.

In between the sound of rustling British Pounds and the hasty booking of airline tickets, was that also the sound of diamonds being put into little velvet- lined purses we could hear?

Speaking to Violet Gonda on SW Radio Africa, British M.E.P. Geoffrey Van Orden said there were strong proposals to “adjust the restrictive measures” on all but 10 of the 91 people on the EU’s sanctions list which dates back to 2002.

Van Orden said this was in response to the constitutional referendum which he said Sadcv indicated had been peaceful and credible.

Van Orden said the motive for the de-listing was to “show a sign of encouragement” to individuals on the sanctions list.

He said by seriously reducing the number of people still on the sanctions list, the EU would in return want “reassurances that everything will go well in coming elections.”

“If people move in the right direction they will indeed be rewarded for this,” Van Orden said, adding that if there were signs of “rolling back,” then de-listed individuals would quickly be re-listed.
Listening to Van Orden referring to listing and de-listing reminded us of Zanu PF’s listing, de-listing and re-listing of thousands of farms since 2000.

Considering that both the MDC and Zanu PF had lobbied for a “Yes” vote and that most voters were simply doing what they were told since they had never laid eyes on the draft constitution, it’s not really surprising the poll was peaceful.  

What was worrying in the referendum ballot were the things that went unnoticed, unchallenged or were unknown to ordinary people.

One serious question was how many polling stations did not have MDC observers, and why?

Another was why observers were told to vacate the constituency counting centre in Glen View South and why election results were not displayed outside some polling stations?

Equally confusing was why there were widespread eyewitness reports of very low turnout and short queues from many parts of the country and yet the final tally was 3,3 million votes.

The MDC’s Obert Gutu said it was the biggest turnout since Independence and Douglas Mwonzora said there were no queues because it only took 15 seconds for each vote to be cast.

The belief that anything official in Zimbabwe only takes 15 seconds is a real stretch of the imagination.

What most of us hadn’t understood was that while it was liberating and unintimidating to be able to vote with only an ID (as long as it said CIT), it enabled a giant loophole in voter eligibility.

You can get an ID at 16 years old in Zimbabwe but you can’t vote until you are 18 years old.

Is that how Zimbabwe arrived at the 3,3 million voters in the referendum, by plugging in hundreds of thousands of 16-year-old school children who probably can’t even spell the word constitution let alone be well-enough informed to understand what they were voting for?
While the EU has de-listed 90 percent of the individuals from its sanctions list, those same individuals are still in positions of power and authority and have not been held to account for the actions that landed them on the EU list in the first place.

It is ironic the EU considered de-listing in the same week that human rights defender Beatrice Mtetwa was incarcerated. - Cathy Buckle


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