The European Union has extended and lifted a small number of sanctions against the African nation of Zimbabwe. However, EU members extended an arms embargo and development aid freeze. Restrictions have still been placed on President Robert Mugabe.
After years of delivering tyrannical and draconian policies to his people, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is still in power. Although his health has been in question over the last couple of years, it seems he will remain president until his death.
For a decade now, nations around the world, the United Nations and the European Union have applied severe sanctions against Zimbabwe because of the stances held by the Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
On Friday, the EU announced in a media release that they are lifting, maintaining and extending a number of sanctions on Zimbabwean public officials and on the government and its leadership.
“The European Union is committed to supporting the peaceful progress and democratic development of the people of Zimbabwe,” said EU foreign policy high representative Catherine Ashton. “[I welcome the progress] towards the creation of a conducive environment for the holding of free, fair, peaceful and transparent elections.”
The EU’s 27 member states extended an arms embargo and a development aid freeze for another another six months. The EU expanded this measure to urge political reforms and legitimate and peaceful elections prior to eliminating them.
The European body did, though, remove a visa ban and a freeze on assets for 51 individuals, including loyalists, journalists, public officials and former ministers, and 20 entities, which have been linked to the ZANU-PF. This will take place immediately.
The visa ban suspension decision also affects Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengewi because now they will be able to travel for peace talks in Brussels.
President Mugabe and 123 persons and entities will remain on the banned list.
Officials from the ZANU-PF called the sanctions unjust and urged the EU to remove all of the sanctions.
“The whole sanctions regime is illegal and racist, and we are not going to celebrate decisions meant to patronise us while they act as lords over our political affairs,” said ZANU-PF chief party spokesman Rugare Gumbo in an interview with Reuters. “It's very tragic that the EU is still being used by some of its members, principally Britain, in pursuing a neo-colonial agenda to remove ZANU-PF from power.”