EU recommends further restrictive measures

EU recommends more sanctions against Zimbabwe

Business Day Live by Kevin Samaita

15 February 2019

Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has been accused of deploying soldiers who fired live ammunition at unarmed civilians and committed human rights abuses

Military vehicles and soldiers patrol the streets in Harare, Zimbabwe. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO

Harare — The European parliament on Thursday recommended more sanctions against the Zimbabwean government as result of state sponsored violence that left more than a dozen people dead.

In resolutions passed at the end of its meeting in Brussels on Thursday, the EU Parliament resolved to “call on the European Council to review its restrictive measures against individuals and entities in Zimbabwe, including those measures currently suspended, in the light of accountability for recent state violence”.

The proposed imposition of further sanctions are set to be further discussed when 28 EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday (February 18).

Currently, only former president Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace and the Zimbabwe Defence Industries had effectively remained under EU sanctions, while an asset freeze and travel restrictions had been temporarily suspended for five officials including vice-president Constantino Chiwenga and army commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda.

Over the past few years, the EU had reduced the number of officials on sanctions from the initial list of 200 that were placed under the measures first imposed in 2002 but the latest development is a fresh blow to President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government that had been seeking reconciliation with the EU.

In the resolutions, the EU said it “strongly condemns the violence that occurred during the recent protests in Zimbabwe; firmly believes that peaceful protest is part of a democratic process and that excessive force in response must be avoided in all circumstances”.

The EU parliament urged Mnangagwa “to remain true to his inaugural promises … put Zimbabwe back on a path of reconciliation and respect for democracy and the rule of law”.

Mnangagwa’s administration has been accused of deploying soldiers that fired live ammunition at unarmed civilians and committed a litany of human rights abuses in response to protests over a fuel hike.

To date, none of the implicated soldiers have been brought to book while more than 1,000 mainly opposition officials and supporters have been arrested.

In the wake of these allegations, the EU Parliament called on Zimbabwean authorities “to undertake a prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigation into allegations of human riots violations and abuses, including rape and sexual violence by the security forces and to bring those responsible to justice”.

It also said it was "deeply concerned about reported violations of due process through fast-tracking and mass trials; insists that the judiciary must uphold the rule of law and ensure that its independence and the right to a fair trial is respected in all circumstances; denounces all arrests made without bringing forward charges”.

The EU said any long term support from the EU would be given to Zimbabwe based on “comprehensive reforms rather than mere promises”.

During debate over the sanctions, there were differences among the EU countries with some member states taking the view that the measures have not yielded any positive results.

Earlier in February, Britain’s minister for Africa Harriet Baldwin called for widening of sanctions against Zimbabwe to include more individuals implicated in the military crackdown.

Sadc countries have, on the other hand, stood in solidarity with Zimbabwe, calling for lifting of all sanctions against it.