Lifting sanctions: EU must be cautious

We urge the European Union to be extremely cautious in its treatment of whether or not to lift the targeted measures imposed on a few Zimbabweans about a decade ago.

The EU ambassador to Zimbabwe has denied reports indicate that the Union is set to remove the targeted sanctions by the end of this month.

Whatever the case, the EU should exercise utmost discretion. A decision to lift the sanctions, would have far reaching ramifications.

As we have always maintained, the sanctions were justified on the basis that they were adopted in the first place as an international reaction to politically motivated human rights violations by an increasingly despotic regime.

The United Nations, through the Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, recently blamed them –in part – for causing the suffering of the vulnerable and frustrating a much needed economic turnaround. She called for the lifting of the restrictive measures – largely on the basis that they have been so effectively spin-doctored by Zanu (PF) that the confusion surrounding them is now of itself a major impediment towards foreign direct investment and general economic progress. They have failed to accomplish that for which they were devised, and are no longer fit for purpose.

As we insisted in an earlier comment, the suffering currently endured by the majority of Zimbabweans has nothing to do with the restrictive measures on President Robert Mugabe, his key supporters and their associated companies..

Instead, it is due to poor choices of policies, greed amongst our leaders, insensitivity to the plight of the majority and, of course, political intransigence that has driven away investors and isolated a once prosperous Zimbabwe.

Given this, it would therefore be wrong to reach a decision to lift the embargo on a selected group of people and companies on the basis that they are inimical to the well-being of the people.

Before the sanctions can be lifted, there is need for demonstrated evidence that those who were responsible for their establishment have changed. There is need for them to demonstrate that they no longer have a propensity to brutalise innocent civilians.

They should genuinely prove that they have adopted solid democratic principles and are no longer given to looting national resources for personal gain.

There is need for a raft of sustainable reforms that include the opening up of media space, a non-partisan security sector, electoral laws that guarantee free and fair elections, and a readiness among those responsible for crimes against humanity to accept blame and compensate victims.

Removing the sanctions is bound to give those responsible for the crisis a sense of impunity.

As it stands, the situation in Zimbabwe is still precarious, especially as we head for an election that might well result in Mugabe’s defeat and, by implication, the exposure of his lieutenants who are on the sanctions list.

The EU must consult broadly and transparently before deciding to lift the sanctions.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga
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  1. John Davey

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