EU loses patience with Zim

The European Union is fast losing patience with the Zimbabwean government over its failure to respond positively to the western bloc’s resumption of direct engagement last year.

Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe

On-going farm invasions, inconsistent economic policies, political violence and human rights violations continue unabated. Government officials – preoccupied with fighting for political power – show no sense of urgency in addressing the situation, say highly-placed diplomatic sources.

The EU resumed direct engagement with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) government in November 2014, paving way for much-needed aid from the west after more than a decade of restrictive measures over human rights abuses and bad governance.

Relations between Zimbabwe and the EU became frosty in 2008 when several western nations imposed targeted measures against Mugabe and his lieutenants for gross human rights violations and electoral fraud. Over the past few years most of those have been removed from the list – with only Mugabe, his wife Grace, the defence chiefs, the Zimbabwe Defence Industries and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation remaining.

But diplomatic sources have confided to The Zimbabwean that there was a general consensus among EU member states that, despite all this, the situation prevailing in Zimbabwe at the moment did not point to a positive re-engagement. Zimbabwe desperately needs foreign aid and direct investment to rescue the economy, which has worsened since the 2013 general elections that Zanu (PF) won with a controversial landslide amid allegations of systematic poll rigging.

Showdown looms

The EU is on record saying it would be monitoring the situation in the country, as well as the response and commitment of the government to fully restore relations. Recent cases of renewed farm invasions, inconsistent economic policies, political violence, human rights violations including the disappearance of Mugabe critic Itai Dzamara – allegedly abducted by state agents – have set the stage for a showdown between Zanu (PF) and the EU.

The impeccable sources said EU member states were fast losing their patience with Mugabe’s administration. As rapprochement and appeasement appears to have failed, a confrontational approach was one of the available options in pushing the Zanu (PF) government to address the Zimbabwean crisis.

“It seems that EU countries and President Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party have different readings of the situation currently prevailing. For EU member states, the situation requires urgent measures as it poses a great disaster for the country,” said the source

“For example, the issues of renewed farm invasions and inconsistency on economic policies deter investors and we are saying that these issues should be addressed as a matter of urgency. But it seems the government does not have any sense of urgency in addressing the situation.

“There seems to be pre-occupation with the fight for political power among politicians with no one paying attention to the people’s welfare. There might come a time when the EU will have no option but to remind the government that they have an obligation to deliver to their people.”

Mugabe has often chided Western governments for interfering in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs. His rants have often followed critical statements from Western nations on various issues, especially human rights violations.

Conflicting signals

The EU is on record saying that the abduction of Dzamara was a serious cause for concern and has implored the government on several occasions to make sure those behind his disappearance are brought to book.

“It seems that ever since the EU moved to re-engage with the government, there has been no meaningful response from President Mugabe’s administration. Instead, some of the issues that led to the imposition of the restrictive measures are repeating themselves. The EU is still following the diplomatic path, but if the current situation continues, they will have to remind President Mugabe’s government that he should ensure law and order prevails if the country is to move forward,” said another source.

Another area of concern among Western nations is that Zimbabwean government officials have been giving conflicting signals on government policies.

“To be honest, the apparent lack of seriousness on the part of government officials is a serious cause for concern. Meetings with several officials have revealed that they are not speaking with one voice and as a result, it is the people who are suffering as the economy continues on its downward trend,” said the source.

Post published in: News

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