HARARE – The European Union has renewed its arms embargo on Zimbabwe, as well as a targeted asset freeze on the state arms company.
In a statement on Monday, the Council of the European Union said the late former president Robert Mugabe’s name had been removed from the sanctions list, adding that an asset freeze and travel ban on four other individuals would remain, although suspended.
The four are Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda and former first lady, Grace Mugabe.
Mugabe, who died in September last year, is off the sanctions list.
The decision to review the Zimbabwe sanctions is the first since former colonial power Britain – which campaigned for the sanctions first imposed in 2002 – officially withdrew from the European Union.
Pledging its support for “economic and political reforms in Zimbabwe” the EU said it wanted to move towards a “more constructive EU-Zimbabwe relationship.”
“Taking into account the situation in Zimbabwe, including the yet to be investigated alleged role of the armed and security forces in human rights abuses, the Council agreed to renew its arms embargo and targeted assets freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, for one year until 20 February 2021,” the statement said.
“The existing restrictive measures against four individuals are suspended. The arms embargo, as well as the asset freeze against Zimbabwe Defence Industries, do not affect the Zimbabwean economy, foreign direct investment, or trade.”
The EU said in noted the ongoing acute humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, and would renew its support in various sectors “such as economic development, primary health care, resilience building, as well as through humanitarian assistance.”
The EU sanctions were forced imposed in 2002 in response to the often-violent invasion of farms owned by whites, and human rights abuses.
Initially targeting over 100 officials who were banned from travelling to the EU and subject to an asset freeze, the sanctions regime has been relaxed over the years, although arms trade with Zimbabwe by EU states remains banned.
The EU said it “stands ready to review the whole range of its policies at any time, when justified, based on developments in the country.”
George Charamba, the spokesman for the presidency, said they expected Britain to shortly announce its own sanctions policy on Zimbabwe, which he said would be aligned with the more aggressive sanctions imposed by the United States.
“The British government is set to issue a statement in which it seeks to disagree with marginal concessions done by the EU on illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe,” Charamba wrote on Twitter.
“The goal is two-fold: to show independence of action vis-a-vis the EU; to align with the United States which retains virulent sanctions against Zimbabwe as the new UK Prime Miniser (Boris Johnson) closely aligns his policy with the US, and seeks to placate his home constituency against lingering British anger in respect of land reforms.
“UK does not want closure on land, which is why it has problems with Zimbabwe rejoining Commonwealth. Aluta!”-Zimlive