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The European Union Renews Zimbabwe Sanctions

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

The European Union has renewed for another year targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace and the Zimbabwe Defense Industries.

Mr. Mugabe and his wife are subject to a travel ban imposed by the EU a decade ago over electoral fraud and human rights abuse allegations while the Zimbabwe Defense Industries is affected by an arms embargo.

"The restrictive measures should be renewed until Feb. 20, 2016," the EU's Official Journal revealed Friday. "The application of the travel ban and asset freeze should be maintained for two persons."

The EU has over the years eased the measures to encourage political reform in Zimbabwe but kept its travel ban on Mr. Mugabe and his wife Grace, as well as the ZDI arms embargo.

The renewal of the sanctions came on the back of the EU’s decision to start supporting Harare directly.

This week the bloc gave Zimbabwe $270 million to fund the government and a number of projects as relations between Harare and the EU showed signs of thawing.

Earlier this month, EU officials said that Mr. Mugabe might be allowed into Eropean capitals on an exceptional basis during his year-long chairmanship of the African Union, if traveling on AU business.

Political analyst and Director for Centre for Natural Resource Governance Farai Maguwu says the EU should have lifted the sanctions saying the measures are doing little, if anything, to put pressure on Mr. Mugabe.

"I think it reflects the complexity of sanctions," said Maguwu. "On one hand we see the desire of the European Union to re-engage with Zimbabwe; at the same time they have problems readmitting Mugabe as a friend, an ally, as a statesman."

He continued: "So we see that President Mugabe and his wife are now a stumbling block between the relations of Zimbabwe and the rest of the world."

Presidential spokesman George Charamba was not reachable for comment.

He did not pick his phone but Zanu PF activist and political commentator Morris Ngwenya told VOA that it’s not surprising that the EU has decided to renew the sanctions against Mr. Mugabe and the Zimbabwe Defense Industries.