The European Union (EU) on Monday delisted 21 Zanu PF officials from its sanctions register and suspended travel bans on six ministers, a gesture Brussels said was to reward political reforms implemented by government so far.
But the 27-member bloc maintained the punitive measures on President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, as well as more than 100 members of his inner circle accused of rights abuses.
EU's top diplomat in Harare, Ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia, told reporters following a review meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium, that all measures may be lifted if Zimbabwe can achieve a credible constitutional referendum and a violence-free election.
“We call on all political parties to maintain the momentum that should allow for the holding of elections later this year," said Dell’Ariccia.
"The European Union reiterates its commitment to political dialogue with the government and the fact that it will work with any government formed as a result of a peaceful, transparent and credible electoral process.”
Those delisted include the late Vice President John Nkomo and Higher Education Minister Stan Mudenge, former Energy Minister Machael Nyambuya, former Deputy Finance Minister David Chapfika, former Health Minister David Parirenyatwa, Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, and former Women’s Affairs Minister Shuvai Mahofa.
Ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia said travel bans on the six ministers were suspended because the reasons that necessitated them no longer existed. But he cautioned that the restrictions could be reactivated if the EU felt necessary.
In Brussels, the EU Council urged political parties in the unity government to ensure coming elections are credible and to complete the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that underpins the power-sharing establishment.
“The EU, consistent with its incremental approach, stands ready to further adjust its policy to recognize progress as it is made by the Zimbabwean parties along the SADC roadmap,” the EU said in a statement.
“A peaceful and credible constitutional referendum would represent an important milestone justifying an immediate suspension of the majority of all remaining EU targeted restrictive measures against individuals and entities.
“Reaffirming its partnership with the people of Zimbabwe, the EU calls on all political parties to maintain the momentum allowing for the holding of democratic elections later this year and to complete the implementation of the GPA and the SADC roadmap.
“The EU reiterates its commitment to political dialogue with the Government of National Unity and to work with any government formed as the result of a peaceful, transparent and credible electoral process."
Still, Zanu PF dismissed the EU’s move, calling it “preposterous” and demanding the wholesale lifting of sanctions.
Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said: “The decision by the EU to remove certain individuals and companies from their illegal sanctions list is outrageous and preposterous.
“Zanu PF will never accept any conditional removal of the illegal sanctions or any self-serving initiatives meant to advance the economic interests of Western nations. Lifting of illegal sanctions must be unconditional and total.”
The EU and other Western nations, including America, imposed sanctions on Mugabe, his wife and other top Zanu PF officials in 2002 over election fraud charges and gross human rights violations.