By Alex Bell
The European Union (EU) has moved to distance itself from claims that a German firm is bypassing targeted restrictions on Zimbabwe to trade with Robert Mugabe, saying the responsibility to investigate the matter falls on Germany.
According to the news and analysis site Africa Confidential the German firm Wilhelm Guth Ventiltechnik has been supplying components to Robert and Grace Mugabe’s Gushungo Dairy Estate for the past four years. The components are supplied through the wholly owned subsidiary of the German firm, Guth South Africa.
This is despite the EU targeted restrictive measures that are still in place against Mugabe and his wife, which ban any EU member countries from doing business with the individuals or companies on the targeted list.
The European leadership bloc has lifted its measures against the majority of the Mugabe regime, but the ZANU PF leader and Grace Mugabe remain targeted.
When contacted for comment a spokesperson for the EU’s High Representative of Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton said: “Doing business with companies associated with designated persons should be prohibited if it is assessed that this would benefit indirectly the designated persons.”
The spokesperson added in an emailed reaction: “In case of a possible violation of sanctions, the Member State where the company is registered would carry out an investigation…The enforcement of sanctions is a matter for Member States.”
There has not yet been a response from the German authorities to SW Radio Africa’s request for more information.
Political analyst Clifford Mashiri said that the EU has “no backbone” to deal with the Mugabe regime anymore, because it is being led by its own, personal interests.
“Human rights are no longer on the agenda of the European Union. They have sought to re-engage with Mugabe and there are concerns that come February (when the EU leadership meets) there won’t be any more measure against him,” Mashiri said.
He explained that efforts to pass the responsibility to Germany were “not surprising,” because “it has acquiesced and accepted Mugabe, particularly for economic motives.”
“As long as they are guaranteed the right to deal in Zimbabwe’s diamonds, they will do this,” Mashiri said.
More European countries have moved to voice support for the total lifting of the targeted measures on the Mugabe regime, after Belgium successfully campaigned for the removal of the restrictions on the state run Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corporation (ZMDC).
Greece has since said that it wants the measures removed by the time it takes over the Presidency of the EU in 2014. SW Radio Africa