WASHINGTON DC —
The European Union (EU) has agreed to lift sanctions on a Zimbabwean mineral resources firm despite concerns by the opposition and Western nations that President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party allegedly rigged the July 31 elections.
EU Foreign Affairs spokesman Michael Mann said the regional bloc carried out the review of sanctions imposed on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and has “begun the process of delisting ZMDC.”
The decision allows the ZMDC to sell its diamonds in Europe. Belgium, centre of the global diamond trade, had pushed hard for the EU to lift sanctions on ZMDC in line with an earlier agreement. Britain had resisted the move so as not to be seen to be rewarding Mr. Mugabe.
The EU removed the targeted sanctions on most Zanu-PF officials early this year, save for President Mugabe and nine others.
The sanctions were imposed on the president, his inner circle and some firms linked to Zanu-PF following disputed elections in 2001.
The decision to take ZMDC off the sanctions list must be endorsed by EU foreign ministers. This is seen as a formality.
The ZMDC oversees the mining, processing, production and sale of diamonds in the Marange fields, Manicaland province.
Several firms mining diamond in the country have been accused of not making adequate remittances to the state. They are said to be selling diamonds in the black market in countries like China and Mozambique.
Commenting on reports from Brussels that the EU has started the process of delisting the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation from the list of companies hit by the regional bloc’s sanctions, director Tafadzwa Musarara of Resources Exploitation Watch, an NGO linked to Zanu-PF, said the move was welcome and long overdue.