Travel ban lifted to allow talks

Smart sanctions to be reviewed
HARARE - The European Union's "smart sanctions" policy against President Robert Mugabe and his regime was in danger of dissolving after a Zimbabwe ministerial delegation stepped up pressure to plead its case in Brussels, amid disagreements within the EU over maintenance of the measures and determined opposition from African nations.

Britain and the Netherlands, which are leading the struggle to save the policy, will offer a compromise at a planned meeting with Zimbabwean ministers expected to travel to the EU soon to call for the removal of the measures. Impeccable diplomatic sources say Britain will press for the flawed regime to be maintained because it is not happy with the pace of reforms in the inclusive government and Mugabe’s intransigence in implementing terms of the global political agreement.

The 27-nation EU bloc is willing to allow ministers such as Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa, who are technically banned from travelling to Europe, to travel for the smart sanctions talks. The delegation will also comprise MDC ministers Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Elton Mangoma. The ministerial delegation was forced to cancel its trip to Brussels in May after it was stranded at the Oliver Tambo International Airport as a result of flight bans imposed following the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano which grounded carriers across Europe and cost airlines billions.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga said they were waiting for a “new date” but sources in the Spanish embassy said plans for the trip were at an advanced stage and the delegation would be travelling “pretty soon.” Spain currently holds the rotating EU presidency until the end of this month. The smart sanctions have increased the isolation of the Mugabe regime, especially since the formation of the GNU.

But the consensus at the last meeting concealed a divergence of views among the 27 member states, with reservations among nations with long-standing interests in Africa.

Authoritative diplomatic sources say some countries led by Germany and Denmark favour an easing of the measures to try and prod Mugabe into cooperating with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The view of some softening of the measures, accompanied by an equal easing of language to “acknowledge the reality of the GPA and encourage its implementation” would prevail, the source said.

Crucially, Mugabe and Zanu (PF) have been backed by African neighbours, who have expressed solidarity. South Africa President Jacob Zuma, SADC’s point man in resolving Zimbabwe’s political crisis, has openly urged the lifting of sanctions against Zanu (PF) leaders if progress was to be made in resolving that country’s political crisis. Zuma says it would be difficult for Zimbabwe to deal with outstanding obstacles to a political resolution while the smart sanctions were still in place.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *