WASHINGTON DC —
The European Union (EU) is moving to remove all but a handful of Zanu-PF officials from its sanctions register in response to what it says was a credible constitutional referendum held last week.
Lawmaker Geoffrey van Orden, who chairs the European Parliament’s so-called ‘Friends of Zimbabwe’ group said Friday the EU will remove 81 individuals from its list of 91, leaving 10 officials on the financial and travel restrictions list.
The move comes amid calls by a South African Parliamentary Committee for the EU to end the sanctions, calling them an obstacle to Zimbabwe’s economic prospects.
Van Orden called the referendum a “first step,” but said the most important event will be the forthcoming elections.
"We recognise that there has been some movement in the right direction and this needs to be reinforced," he said. "The referendum was just a first step. The really important event will be the elections later in the year."
He said the EU had agreed that the measures could be reactivated if need arose.
"A reduction in the restrictive measures is just about acceptable provided they be quickly reimposed if there is any sign of violence, intimidation or manipulation of the electoral process. My understanding is that this is exactly what has been agreed."
The EU delisted 27 other Zanu PF officials last month, including six ministers, and promised it would reward a credible referendum. It has also said the removal of all measures depends on a credible vote.
Studio 7 was not able to obtain the identities of the 81 people set to be delisted.
Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo rejected the EU's impartial removal of the restrictions saying they should all be lifted.
Political analst Dr. Nkululeko Sibanda of Huddersfield University in the UK said he does not agree with the EU’s rationale for scaling back on the sanctions.