The Zimbabwean government has commended the European Union (EU) for removing restrictive measures against the country, vice president, army commander and former first lady
Reacting to the removal of the targeted sanctions imposed by the EU on Constantino Chiwenga, army chief Valarie Sibanda and Grace Mugabe, the country’s Deputy Information Minister, Kindness Paradza, described the move as progressive, noting that America and Britain should also lift the restrictive measures.
The EU said it will maintain the sanctions on the Zimbabwe Defense Industries as the army has been linked to human rights abuses.
Critics said the EU should not lift the sanctions as the human rights situation has not improved in Zimbabwe.
In a statement on Monday, the European Union (EU) reiterated its ambition for a more constructive relationship with Zimbabwe at all levels.
“The EU has reviewed its restrictive measures in respect of Zimbabwe and in this context recalls the Council Conclusions of 17 February 2020 as well as the Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU of 19 February 2021. Since then, the situation in terms of respect for human rights has not improved in Zimbabwe. Intimidation of the political opposition and other government critics has continued to restrict the democratic and civic space, which is under threat of shrinking further, through the Data Protection Act and ongoing legislative processes such as the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill and the envisaged so-called “Patriotic Act”.
“The EU is concerned about these developments. Perpetrators of human rights violations should be swiftly brought to justice to end impunity. The recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry have not been followed substantially and need to be implemented as a matter of priority and urgency. It is important that international human rights obligations are adhered to and the constitutional rights of the people of Zimbabwe respected.”
The EU decided to renew its restrictive measures, while lifting the already suspended restrictive measures against Chiwenga, Grace Mugabe and Sibanda.
“The arms embargo and the targeted assets freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, remain in place taking into account the situation in Zimbabwe, as well as the continuing need to investigate the role of security forces in human rights abuses. The EU will continue to closely follow developments, with a particular attention to the human rights situation, and recalls its readiness to review and adapt the whole range of its policies accordingly.
“The measures in place are targeted and very limited, therefore they do not affect the people of Zimbabwe, its economy, foreign direct investments, or trade. Zimbabwe continues to benefit from duty free and quota free access of its exports to the EU, while negotiations are ongoing to deepen the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Economic Partnership Agreement. There is significant potential in terms of investments and jobs opportunities, if structural bottlenecks were to be addressed, and political and economic reforms, including enhancing trust in the rule of law, tackling corruption and respect for human rights, are implemented.”
The EU reiterated its readiness to support credible and sustainable economic and political reforms, based on tangible commitments made by the Zimbabwean government.
“The EU will continue to support the people of Zimbabwe focusing on three priority areas as aligned with the Zimbabwe’s National Development Strategy: (i) good governance and citizens’ rights; (ii) green economic growth and; (iii) social recovery and human development. The EU commits itself to enhancing common efforts on addressing climate change on the basis of the Zimbabwean and EU commitments at COP26. The EU will continue to support the Zimbabwean people with humanitarian assistance, in case of need.”
The EU said it is following closely the electoral agenda in Zimbabwe and stands ready to continue its support to electoral reforms – an important pillar to strengthen democracy – based on the recommendations of the 2018 EU Election Observation Mission.
“The EU is preparing for a follow up mission. Moreover, the EU welcomes the reassurances given by the authorities of Zimbabwe that they will be inviting international electoral observers for the 2023 elections including an EU Election Observation Mission.
“As an integral element of its engagement with Zimbabwe, the EU looks forward to have a political dialogue in Harare as a matter of priority and notes the readiness of both sides to organize this dialogue in the near future. The political dialogue will provide an opportunity for regular and open discussions, on many subjects, including on economy and human rights. The political dialogue is key in fostering mutual understanding and constructive cooperation, paving the way for progress in the relations.”