EU takes VP Chiwenga off sanctions

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Harare, February 22, 2022 (New Ziana)- Days after President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s return from an African Union-European Union (AU-EU) summit in Brussels, where he sought to re-boot relations with continental Europe, the EU on Tuesday lifted its last personal sanctions on three Zimbabweans imposed decades ago.

The European bloc imposed the sanctions on Zimbabwe in solidarity with Britain, which had sought to use the collective EU economic pressure to force the government to abandon its land reforms in which excess white-owned farmland was compulsorily acquired to resettle landless blacks.

But after Britain’s exist from the EU, and Zimbabwe’s new engagement policy meant to mend fences with both friends and foes under President Mnangagwa, the EU has been gradually lifting its sanctions on the country.

The sanctions, targeting the economy, and individuals seen as central to decision-making in Zimbabwe, are estimated to have cost the economy up to US$100 billion over the last two decades.

In a statement, the EU said on Tuesday it was lifting the personal sanctions on Vice President Constantine Chiwenga, defence forces commander Philip Sibanda and former First Lady Grace Mugabe, but would retain the arms embargo, and penalties against the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

The sanctions, among other things, barred the targeted individuals from visiting any EU country.
“The EU has decided to renew its restrictive measures, while lifting the already suspended restrictive measures against three individuals,” it said.

“The arms embargo and the targeted asset freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, remain in place taking into account the situation in Zimbabwe, as well as the continuing need to investigate the role of security forces in human rights abuses. The EU will continue to closely follow developments, with a particular attention to the human rights situation, and recalls its readiness to review and adapt the whole range of its policies accordingly,” it said.

The EU said it was keen to continue dialogue with the country on full normalisation of relations, and hinted it will take part, as observer, in the country’s general elections next year.

“The political dialogue will provide an opportunity for regular and open discussions, on many subjects, including on economy and human rights. The political dialogue is key in fostering mutual understanding and constructive cooperation, paving the way for progress in the relations,” said the EU.

“Moreover, the EU welcomes the reassurances given by the authorities of Zimbabwe that they will be inviting international electoral observers for the 2023 elections including an EU Election Observation Mission,” said the group.

Before relations soured, Zimbabwe and the EU had strong economic ties, especially in the area of trade, where special quotas were reserved for a number of the country’s exports such as beef, flowers and a variety of horticultural products.

Since coming into office in 2017, President Mnangagwa has prioritised restoring relations with all countries, and institutions that had ostracised the country.

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