EU takes it easy on Zimbabwe, not Mugabe

The European Union is to further ease sanctions on Zimbabwe next week, but will keep a travel ban and asset freeze on President Robert Mugabe and his wife, EU sources said on Tuesday.

But the EU has held out an olive branch to Mugabe, inviting him to take part in an EU-Africa summit in Brussels in April and granting him an exemption from sanctions to visit Europe.

The moves reflect a cautious easing of EU policy towards Zimbabwe 12 years after it first imposed sanctions in protest at human rights abuses and violations of democracy under Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

EU states were divided in their response when Mugabe (89) won a fifth term as president in an election last July that was endorsed as free by African observers but denounced as fraudulent by the opposition.

The overhaul of the EU's policy, after a review, is designed to encourage positive change in Zimbabwe while retaining some leverage over Mugabe to pursue reforms.

Sanctions renewed annually?
"It does seem a time to move forward and the sense is that Zimbabwe is moving … We need to respond," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in the European Parliament on Tuesday in response to a question about easing sanctions.

"I think we probably are now in the right place to do this on the basis that if things go badly we can move back again," she said.

EU sanctions on Zimbabwe are renewed annually and are due for review by February 20. The EU is expected to announced next week that sanctions will be suspended on eight of the 10 Zimbabweans affected by asset freezes and travel bans in recognition that the country has made some progress in reforming.

EU officials have described the eight as "key decision-makers" in Zimbabwe.

Arms embargo
However, Mugabe and his wife Grace will remain under sanctions for a further year, EU sources said.


The EU will keep its arms embargo on Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe defence Industries, an arms supplier, will also remain under sanctions, the sources said.

Sanctions on scores of people and companies that were previously suspended will remain suspended.

Zimbabwe may be in line to receive some funding from an EU aid fund for developing countries for the period until 2020.

For years, the EU stopped channelling development aid through the Zimbabwean government and worked instead with charities, but it will now talk to the government about how to spend aid money.

Zimbabwe, shunned by Western governments and funding institutions, needs $27-billion – more than twice the size of its economy – to fund a five-year plan to improve basic services and rebuild the impoverished country, a senior government official said last week.

Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has long demanded the complete removal of EU sanctions it denounces as illegal.

Political reforms
An EU source said Mugabe had not yet replied to the invitation to join other African and EU leaders at the Brussels summit in April.

Mugabe took part in EU-Africa summits in Tripoli in 2010 and Lisbon in 2007, although his presence at the Lisbon summit prompted a boycott by then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The EU has gradually eased sanctions on Zimbabwe for several years to reward it for political reforms under the previous coalition government in which Mugabe shared power with his political rival Morgan Tsvangirai. – Reuters

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Adrian Croft
Adrian Croft works from London, England. Reuters sub-editor in London. Previously Reuters European Defence Editor in Brussels and before that reported from UK, Spain, U.S., Latin America, South Africa. Adrian Croft has over 929 followers on Twitter.
Advertising

Zuma turns on judiciary as trial nears

Former president says pre-trial correspondence is part of another plot

High court declares Dudu Myeni delinquent

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni has been declared a delinquent director by the...

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments
Advertising

Press Releases

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

Openview, now powered by two million homes

The future of free-to-air satellite TV is celebrating having two million viewers by giving away two homes worth R2-million

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday