The EU and the US are now faced with a choice

obert_gutu1HARARE - The European Union and the US are now faced with a choice: either to abandon efforts to press for reforms in Zimbabwe or to tie future efforts to their economic interests in the country. (Pictured: Sanctions, what sanctions? - Obert Gutu)

The US and EU measures, consistently portrayed as sanctions by the Mugabe regime, but in reality nothing more than personal restrictive measures, are aimed at hastening democratic change. Over the past decade and more, Mugabe has retained power through subjugation of the popular MDC. His anti-sanctions petition launched last week with much fanfare and predictable crassness, enables him to expropriate all foreign companies whose parent countries have imposed restrictions on himself and his bootlickers.

This proves that so long as Mugabe can dictate the terms of engagement, engagement alone will not lead to change in Zimbabwe, a banking analyst said this week.

No change

US policy is not inflexible, the US ambassador Ray Charles is on record saying. If Mugabe begins the transition to democracy, the US will respond by making appropriate changes in policy. The lifting of US measures is contingent upon changes in policy by Mugabe, but to date, he has undertaken no steps which merit a change in US policy.

On Wednesday the US government said it was extending the targeted measures for another year. President Barack Obama said the national emergency with respect to the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions would continue in effect beyond March 6, 2011.

In his letter to the US congress sent on Tuesday, Obama said: “The United States welcomes the opportunity to modify the targeted sanctions regime when blocked persons demonstrate a clear commitment to respect the rule of law, democracy, and human rights.”


Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who boycotted Mugabes campaign launch on Wednesday, said Zanu (PF) was escalating its repression against the people.

The partys calls for the removal of the restrictive measures was out of sync with its actions on the ground, he added. Tsvangirai said businesses were forced to close by Zanu (PF) on Wednesday while motorists and commuter omnibus operators were diverted from their routes to make the numbers at the Zanu (PF) function, in clear violation of the GPA where the rights of citizens are supposed to be respected in light of the new inclusive dispensation.

“In Zimbabwe we are experiencing a new wave of repression against the peoples universal right to free choice and free expression. The past five months have seen a significant rise in the culture of impunity and violence against the people of this country all in the name of an election,” said Tsvangirai.

The EU removed the measures from a few individuals last month, but it seems the action has infuriated Mugabe who immediately stepped up effort to get the remaining officials removed from the list. The restrictions remain on 163 people and 31 businesses linked to rights abuses, undermining democracy or abuse of the rule of law.


Since the clear message from the Western countries that removal of the personal measures would be tied to political reform, Mugabe has reaffirmed his commitment to his “chimurenga” and is quashing pockets of resistance to his regime.

Legislation currently before the Senate, tabled by Zanu (PF) Senator Aguy Georgias, seeks to force the lifting of the embargo. The MDC has forced the removal of the motion from the Senate Order Paper because it was wrongly put by a member of the Executive, and in terms of procedure deputy minister Georgias should never have moved the motion in the House in the first place.

MDC Senator and deputy Justice and Legal Affairs minister, Obert Gutu, says there are no sanctions on Zimbabwe. “Sanctions, what sanctions?” Gutu said. “I will only sign that so-called petition on one condition: over my dead body,” he said. A brief analysis of the facts reveals that Zanu (PF) is attempting to use the suffering of the Zimbabwean people as an excuse to advocate the removal of the measures, Gutu argued.


“Sanctions are an attack on our health, on the education of our children, on our social services and our infrastructure. They are an attack on the entire fabric of our society, says the Zanu (PF) anti sanctions petition.

The statement shamelessly and erroneously invoked the suffering of millions of Zimbabweans, directly caused by Zanu (PF)s policies, when it said sanctions were an attack on the vulnerable: “AIDS orphans, the disabled, the aged, the youth, women and children.” But EU and US law permits the sale of medicine and medical supplies to Zimbabwe, and the United States has approved nearly every request for these items.

What is more, the EU and US are major suppliers of humanitarian relief to Zimbabwe, and it is an indisputable fact that without their interventions many more thousands of Zimbabweans would have died as a result of Mugabes rule than have in fact done so.

The EU has firmly rejected the statements ludicrous claims, with top UK envoy Mark Canning saying the measures are targeted at one in 70,000 Zimbabweans accused of hurting other people, and in no way hurt the economy.

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