The EU Ambassador in Harare, Aldo Dell Ariccia, told SW Radio Africa that they had eased the restrictive measures as a way to acknowledge “progress made” in the SADC facilitated negotiations and in the drafting of a new constitution. He said the EU wanted to encourage further reforms.
But criticism flooded in from some observers, who said negotiations on the SADC roadmap had stalled and none of the issues agreed on by negotiators had actually been implemented.
The 27 EU member states will continue to extend the arms embargo for a further period of six months. But Ambassador Dell Ariccia made a point of saying that EU measures on Zimbabwe are targeted and do not affect the general population. He said that since the establishment of the Government of National Unity, the EU has provided one billion US dollars in development aid.
In this latest revision of the targeted sanctions visa bans on Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa have been suspended, although they remain on the list. Ambassador Dell Ariccia said the two ministers had been granted visa privileges as they are part of a six-member “re-engagement” team responsible for monitoring progress on reforms and communicating with EU officials.
Much criticism has been directed towards the EU’s decision to remove several media chefs from the sanctions list, particularly the chairman of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) Tafataona Mahoso, who continues to block media reforms and has denied licenses to independent broadcasters.
Also delisted were ZANU PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, Mugabe’s nephew Leo Mugabe, ZBC chairman Happison Muchechetere and Zimpapers chief editor Pikirayi Deketeke.
There was no explanation as to why the EU had removed any of the individuals. With another 112 individuals and 11 entities still on the list, the EU said they remain ready to reconsider the restrictive measures at any time, as long as there is progress in the implementation of the GPA.
The EU decision came a day after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai repeated his call for the sanctions to be removed. Speaking to journalists after touring the controversial Chiadzwa diamond mining fields on Thursday, Tsvangirai reportedly said principals had agreed to lobby for the removal of the restrictive measures.
Meanwhile the International Crisis Group (ICG) released a report on the sanctions issue this week, which recommended a comprehensive review of their impact so far. The ICG said the lifting of targeted sanctions should be tied to a reform agenda and not be treated as an “all or nothing” matter.
Piers Pigou, research coordinator for ICG, told SW Radio Africa that those who imposed the measures should show greater flexibility, particularly when it comes to allowing officials on the sanctions list to travel on official business.
“SADC should engage much more vigorously with the GPA partners and exert more pressure on them to move forward with the implementation of what has been agreed on. A time frame is important here,” Pigou explained. SW Radio AfricaPost published in: Africa News