EU to ease Zim sanctions

HARARE - The European Union is to further ease sanctions against Zimbabwe next week, but will keep a travel ban and asset freeze on President Robert Mugabe and his wife, EU sources said on Tuesday.

But the EU has held out an olive branch to Mugabe, inviting him to take part in an EU-Africa summit in Brussels in April and granting him an exemption from sanctions to visit Europe.

The moves reflect a cautious easing of EU policy towards Zimbabwe 12 years after it first imposed sanctions in protest at human rights abuses and violations of democracy under Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

EU states were divided in their response when Mugabe, 89, won a fifth term as president in an election last July that was endorsed as free by African observers but denounced as fraudulent by the opposition.

The overhaul of the EU’s policy, after a review, is designed to encourage positive change in Zimbabwe while retaining some leverage over Mugabe to pursue reforms.

“It does seem a time to move forward and the sense is that Zimbabwe is moving ... We need to respond,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in the European Parliament on Tuesday in response to a question about easing sanctions.

“I think we probably are now in the right place to do this on the basis that if things go badly we can move back again,” she said.

EU sanctions on Zimbabwe are renewed annually and are due for review by February 20.

The EU is expected to announced next week that sanctions will be suspended on eight of the 10 Zimbabweans affected by asset freezes and travel bans in recognition that the country has made some progress in reforming.

EU officials have described the eight as “key decision-makers” in Zimbabwe.

However, Mugabe and his wife Grace will remain under sanctions for a further year, EU sources said.

The EU will keep its arms embargo on Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Defence Industries, an arms supplier, will also remain under sanctions, the sources said.

Sanctions on scores of people and companies that were previously suspended will remain suspended.

Zimbabwe may be in line to receive some funding from an EU aid fund for developing countries for the period until 2020.

For years, the EU stopped channeling development aid through the Zimbabwean government and worked instead with charities, but it will now talk to the government about how to spend aid money.

Zimbabwe, shunned by Western governments and funding institutions, needs $27 billion — more than twice the size of its economy — to fund a five-year plan to improve basic services and rebuild the impoverished country, a senior government official said last week.

Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has long demanded the complete removal of EU sanctions it denounces as illegal.

Comments (2)

This clearly demonstrates the selfishness of the EU. First, they place sanctions on the regime, in an attempt for a government change - clear meddling in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe, with an obvious hidden agenda. Next, diamonds are discovered in the country, and with the new 'Look East' policy in full implementation, many Chinese firms saw it fit to invest in the country. Interestingly so, after the EU and allies finally realised that Zimbabwe was not going to compromise the sovereignty of her resources, it came to their attention that they were at a loss by not engaging with Zimbabwe commercially. So they went on to lift sanctions on ZMDC so that they too can also have a share of Zimbabwe's diamonds. This is absolutely disgusting and selfish. The message they have sent to the Zimbabwean people is that they do not give a toss about the 'human rights violations' which they used to justify the sanctions on the country, and that the sanctions on the president are a means of punishing him for refusing to follow suit, as have many African leaders, by compromising the resources of the country (to benefit the Europeans). The reason they are set to 'ease up' on most of the sanctions, in the industrial sector particularly, is that they do not want to lose out to the Chinese, who are asserting themselves as the new world superpower. This has nothing to do with their 'love' and 'care' for Zimbabweans, its all about global power. They don't care, so don't be fooled.

Mr. Real - 13 February 2014

We will know we are truly de-colonized when we stop worrying about whether they care for us or not. We turned East at least 10 years ago, so let's just do it. We are like the teenager who can only dream of the day when daddy will stop nagging us not to drink and drive. Hopefully when we reach age 60 and we have an accident, we won't be crying its daddy's fault

john Banda - 14 February 2014

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