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European Union Invites Sanctioned Zimbabweans to Make Individual Case for Delisting

President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have long maintained that the country's precipitous economic decline over the past decade was caused by Western sanctions, allegedly in response to fast-track land reform

Following recent talks with a delegation of Zimbabwean officials, the European Union has proposed a mechanism to allow individuals and companies under EU travel and financial sanctions to approach Brussels on an individual basis and present documentation as to why their names should be taken off the list.

Like the United States, Australia and other countries, EU member countries imposed sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and about 200 members of his inner circle over the past decade, citing human rights violations.

The EU offer came as South African president Jacob Zuma relaunched his mediation efforts in Harare after a break during the World Cup of soccer which his country hosted from mid-June to mid-July.

Sources said lead South African facilitator Mac Maharaj was meeting Wednesday in Harare with all three principals of the national unity government set up in February 2009 and often troubled since then over a lengthening agenda of so-called outstanding issues relating to the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing.

Energy Minister Elton Mangoma of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai led the recent Zimbabwean government delegation to Brussels. Mangoma told an MDC publication that the EU said listed individuals and companies could apply for the release of assets to meet basic needs.

President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have long maintained that the country's precipitous economic decline over the past decade was caused by Western sanctions, which they said were in response to land reform.

Said Mangoma: "They can request the council with supporting documentation justifying why the (EU) Council decision to put them on the list should be reconsidered and they can also challenge the Council decision to include them on the list before the General Court of the European Union."

ZANU-PF has taken the position that Western sanctions must be lifted before it will implement the Global Political Agreement in full. It has also demanded that radio broadcasts into the country from abroad must cease.

But the EU and the MDC say ZANU-PF can help its cause most by bringing into line party hardliners who are resisting full implementation of the power-sharing agreement on a number of points.

ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said the EU's latest proposal was not serious. But political analyst Charles Mangongera said ZANU-PF members cannot take the EU up on the offer because their hands are dirty.

Elsewhere, the Zimbabwean Cabinet on Tuesday reconfirmed a week-old resolution that controversial ZANU-PF musical spots which some refer to as "jingles" are inappropriate and should be taken off the air. A cabinet source told VOA that the issue was discussed at length during the weekly cabinet meeting.

Despite last week's resolution, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Chief Executive Happison Muchechetere has refused to pull the songs which say President Mugabe remains in charge despite power sharing.

Liberation war veterans of the ZANU-PF-related Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army or ZANLA support the songs, while ex-fighters of the Zimbabwe Peoples Revolutionary Army or ZIPRA oppose them. ZIPRA was the armed wing of the Zimbabwe African People's Union or ZAPU, absorbed into ZANU-PF in the 1980s.

ZIPRA veteran Max Mnkandla, head of the Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Initiative, said the war is over so there is no need for the national broadcaster to air songs which he said are insulting to the Zimbabwean people.