Australia further relaxes Zim sanctions

HARARE - Australia's Foreign minister announced yesterday that his government had removed 65 names of President Robert Mugabe’s loyalists from its autonomous financial and travel sanctions list, a move immediately dismissed by Mugabe’s Zanu PF.

The move follows the conclusion of a new Constitution that was inked by Mugabe last week after Zimbabweans overwhelmingly voted to adopt the new charter in a March 16 referendum.

Australia’s Foreign minister Bob Carr said the removed figures no longer pose a threat to the restoration of democracy, the rule of law, or progress under the country’s power-sharing agreement but warned the sanctions would be reinstated if the reform process stalls.

“Australia will lift sanctions on 65 individuals including some politicians, military personnel and government officials,” Senator Carr said.

“This is in accordance with the milestones we set in February this year, for the staged easing of sanctions in return for progress towards democracy.

“But we’ve made it clear,  this lifting of sanctions must be accompanied by continued real progress.

“Zimbabwe’s next step must be the holding of free, fair and credible elections by the end of 2013.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo dismissed the move as a non-event, and called for the wholesale removal of all “illegal sanctions.”

“It’s a non starter, we don’t accept that rubbish,” Gumbo told the Daily News.

The Australian Foreign chief said the sanctions decision was consistent with a three-stage roadmap for reform released by Carr on February 7, 2013.

Under the roadmap, Australia would progressively ease sanctions when:

• A date for the constitutional referendum was announced;
• A peaceful and credible constitutional referendum was held; and
• Free and fair elections took place and a democratically-elected government took office.

Senator Carr said the Australian government remained concerned about the fragile political situation in Zimbabwe and supported calls from Zimbabwean leaders and the region for a peaceful process.

“We continue to monitor the political and security situation in Zimbabwe and have expressed concerns at reports of harassment of opposition parties and civil society groupings,” Carr said.

“It has been made clear that Australian sanctions will be reimposed should political reforms be derailed.”
Carr acknowledged the role of Sadc, especially South Africa, in encouraging a return to democracy in Zimbabwe.

He said Australia’s decision was aimed at encouraging further democratic reforms.

The government lifted sanctions against 55 people in March.

Australia still has travel and financial restrictions against 33 people — including Mugabe — and one entity, as well as an arms embargo and a ban on defence links.

Australia first slapped Zimbabwe with targeted measures in 2002 over human rights violations and alleged electoral fraud and systematic suppression of the country’s political opposition, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing government with Mugabe in 2009.

He called on Australia to suspend the sanctions when he visited Canberra in July last year. - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.