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We won’t shift policy because of stadium events and placards: EU on sanctions

"But it's not an issue of shifting policy positions to stadium events or marches of waving placards," EU ambassador Timo Olkkonen

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |

The European Union (EU) says it is not bothered by anti-sanctions protests organised by Zanu PF adding that the restrictive measures were only brought about by human rights abuses and will only go the same way.

The European Union’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen
The European Union’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen

Yesterday (25 October) Zimbabweans and Southern African Development Community (SADC) members commemorated the anti-sanctions day denouncing economic embargoes imposed by the western countries. Zanu PF organised people across the country to demonstrate waving placards denouncing sanctions.

Speaking on the Twitter spaces hosted by journalist Hopewell Chin’ono on Monday to discuss the occasion of Zanu PF’s anti-sanctions day, European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen said they would not change policies because of protests but by Zimbabwean authorities’ commitment to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law.

“On the protests, obviously we will report back to our respective capables as the EU about what is happening here. But it’s not an issue of shifting policy positions to stadium events or marches of waving placards.

“The restrictive measures are there for a reason, which is the human rights situation. The future steps the EU will be taking on those will be as a reflection why they were put in place in the first place and that is the human rights situation. So, that is the decisive factor for us,” Olkkonen said.

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The EU also rubbished the narrative that the Movement Democratic Change (MDC) is the one that called for sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, maintaining that human rights abuses were the sources of the restrictive measures.

He maintained that until President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration learned to respect human rights, sanctions would stay.

“During my time, I’m not aware of the MDC having been calling or initiating the sanctions vis a vis the EU. That’s what I can say about that. I’m not aware of MDC approaching us on the issue of restrictive measures,” he said.

The EU said it has not imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe. The only operational restrictive measures relate to defence and arms: a ban for EU companies to do business with Zimbabwe Defence Industries and an arms embargo.

The EU also added that it is one of the biggest donors to Zimbabwe.

“From 2014-2020, we provided above USD$ 300 million. With the contribution from the #EU, the Zimbabwean health system, resilience building and agricultural value chains, among others, have become stronger,” the EU said.

The United States (US) also said its sanctions were not targeted on the government but specific individuals.

“US sanctions only target those who engage in corruption, violate human rights, and undermine democratic processes in Zimbabwe. The Government of Zimbabwe as a whole is not subject to US sanctions.

“Only 83 individuals and 37 companies, in a country of over 15 million, are targeted by sanctions,” read a statement by the US posted on Twitter. Nehanda Radio