HARARE - European Union (EU) has dispatched a high powered delegation to Zimbabwe to assess the situation ahead of an annual meeting where the country’s sanctions will be reviewed.
Aldo Dell’Ariccia, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, told the Daily News yesterday that he received a delegation from Brussels, but he insisted that it was a routine visit.
“It was the visit by the head of division for Southern Africa External Affairs which is also known as foreign affairs. It was a two day visit and he has left for Lesotho. He has visited countries like Botswana and he will also visit other countries in southern Africa,” Dell’Ariccia said.
Asked whether the visit was to assess the situation in Zimbabwe ahead of the Brussels sanctions review meeting due in a fortnight, Dell Ariccia said: “Of course he got some additional submissions on the issue but his visit was not to do with that. As l said, it was a routine visit.”
The EU is scheduled to meet on February 19 to decide whether or not to extend the embargo first imposed in 2002.
In the wake of the annual review, a Zimbabwean business delegation toured Europe late last month, calling for lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe and urged the bloc’s leadership to normalise relations with Harare.
The high-level delegation of top executives led by Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president and Schweppes Zimbabwe chief executive Charles Msipa presented their case on the need to lift the sanctions and explained how the embargo was affecting investment.
Some of the countries visited include Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland. The delegation engaged policy-making organs of the European Commission and the business sector represented by the European Business Council for Africa and the Mediterranean.
It also engaged senior foreign affairs officials of the countries they visited and various business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce of Belgium-Luxembourg-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific, the Southern Africa Netherlands Chamber of Commerce and the Netherlands Business Council.
The EU slapped president Robert Mugabe and his cronies with targeted sanctions that included travel bans close to a decade ago citing alleged human rights violations.
The sanctions were also targeted at State-owned companies that were allegedly used by the ageing leader to suppress human rights.
However, last year, the regional body removed Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) from the sanctions list.
In 2012, during the unity government tenure, the EU delisted 51 people from the sanctions list with a view to encourage reform and the fulfilment of the Global Political Agreement.
Amongst those removed from the list were former director general of Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Brigadier Elisha Muzonzini, ministers Patrick Chinamasa and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.