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EU renews sanctions against Mnangagwa regime including arms embargo

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |

The European Union (EU) has renewed sanctions against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime while maintaining a targeted asset freeze on the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI).

President Emmerson Mnangagwa ( AFP/Getty Images )
President Emmerson Mnangagwa ( AFP/Getty Images )

The bloc cited the lack of substantial reforms and continued deterioration of the political situation in the country especially the arrests of journalists and opposition actors.

The EU however, welcomed “further opportunities for continued dialogue and engagement with Zimbabwe and reiterates its ambition for a more constructive relationship.”

“The EU recalls the Council Conclusions of 17 February 2020 and notes with concern that Zimbabwe’s multifaceted and prolonged crisis has further deepened.

“The lack of substantial reforms has allowed the continued deterioration of the humanitarian, economic and social situation. Violations of human rights and limitations on the democratic space are also persisting.

“The EU is especially concerned about a proliferation of arrests and prosecutions of journalists, opposition actors and individuals expressing dissenting views, and the use by high-level officials of speech that could be interpreted as incitement to violence,” read the statement.

“The Government of Zimbabwe has committed to adhere fully to its constitutional and international human rights obligations which imply respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, including addressing impunity.

“Perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses should swiftly be brought to justice and the recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry should be implemented as a matter of priority and urgency.”

The EU added: “In light of its continuing concerns, the EU has reviewed its restrictive measures, recalling their purpose to encourage a demonstrable, genuine and long-term commitment by the Zimbabwean authorities to respect and uphold human rights and the rule of law.

“The EU has decided to renew its arms embargo and to maintain a targeted assets freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, taking into account the situation in Zimbabwe, including the continuing need to investigate the role of security force actors in human rights abuses.

“The restrictive measures against three individuals continue to be suspended. The EU will continue to closely follow developments, with a particular attention to the human rights situation, and recalls its readiness to review and adapt the whole range of its policies accordingly.

“These measures do not affect the people of Zimbabwe, its economy, foreign direct investment, or trade, and Zimbabwe continues to benefit from duty free and quota free access of its exports to the EU, with negotiations to deepen the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) ongoing.

“Accelerated political and economic reforms, respect for human rights, boosting trust in the rule of law and tackling corruption would contribute significantly to investor confidence, build a steady business climate and facilitate Zimbabwe in taking full advantage of the opportunities the EPA provides.

“The EU reiterates its readiness to support credible and sustainable economic and political reforms, based on tangible commitments made by the Government of Zimbabwe.

“The EU regards electoral reform as an important element to strengthen democracy in Zimbabwe and is ready to continue its support in this field in line with the recommendations made by the 2018 EU Electoral Observation Mission.

“The EU will continue to support the people of Zimbabwe, having provided over the last 7 years more than €366 million for the development of the country and €68 million of humanitarian assistance, including dedicated assistance in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The upcoming Political Dialogue with Zimbabwe will provide an opportunity for exchanging views and deepening mutual understanding as well as looking for constructive cooperation.”

Recently, Britain slapped state security minister, Owen Ncube, director general of the Central Intelligence Organisation Isaac Moyo, police commissioner General Godwin Matanga and commander of the Presidential Guard and Tactical Commander of the National Reaction Force Anselem Sanyatwe with targeted sanctions following their role in human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

These four government officials are the first individuals from the country to be designated under Britain’s new autonomous Zimbabwe sanctions regime following Britain’s departure from the European Union.

They were slapped with a travel ban and asset freeze meaning they can no longer travel freely to the United Kingdom (UK) nor channel money through Britain’s banks or economy following their alleged role in the deaths of 23 Zimbabwean protesters killed for expressing the right to free speech and demonstration.

Since President Emmerson Mnangagwa assumed power through a military coup in November 2017, his under-fire administration has been accused of massive human rights violations.

At least six people were shot and killed by the military on August 1, 2018 after they had demonstrated against late announcement of election results.

Mnangagwa had set up a commission of enquiry, the Motlanthe Commission which discovered that the military was responsible and that the perpetrators were to be prosecuted. Two years now, his administration has not yet prosecuted anyone.

Despite the government blocking social media sites, on January 14, 2019, police and military forces launched a massive and violent crackdown in Zimbabwe following protests which were sparked by a sharp rise in the price of fuel in the impoverished country.

The country’s rights groups said at least 17 people had been killed and many more beaten by security forces.

Access to the internet and social media was shut off for most of the days in the middle of the month, and armed soldiers were patrolling the streets of major cities.

Unidentified men were reported to be sweeping through poor neighbourhoods of Harare, beating people at random while reports of rape and assaults were also emerging. Nehanda Radio