The Herald (Harare)

1 January 2013

Zimbabwe: EU Unlikely to Scrap Sanctions - GPA Parties

The European Union might not remove the illegal sanctions it imposed on Zimbabwe when it meets in Brussels next month, parties in the inclusive Government hinted yesterday. Although Zanu-PF and the MDC-T were unanimous that the embargoes would be extended to February 2014, the reasons the two parties gave were miles apart.

Zanu-PF argued that the sanctions would not be removed as long as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was not in power, while the MDC-T claims they would remain in place as long as Global Political Agreement issues were not fully implemented.

The EU meets in February to review among other issues its position on the overt and covert sanctions it imposed on Zimbabwe a decade ago.

Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa said it was imperative for the country to understand why the EU imposed the sanctions

"The sanctions were imposed to install the MDC and (Mr) Tsvangirai into power. I know the sanctions are going to be extended until after elections (this year). We are not going to have elections before February and this means the sanctions are going to remain in place until 2014," he said.

Cde Mutasa said the EU was likely to remove the sanctions after February 2014.

"It is naïve to think that the sanctions will be removed this February. The EU might, just as a face saver, remove the sanctions after February 2014, not because the MDC-T will have won -- of course Zanu-PF will win - but will be ashamed to continue having them in place," he said.

More than 100 key individuals have been covered under an EU travel ban and assets freeze imposed in 2002 as the bloc joined Britain in fighting Zimbabwe over the land reform programme.

Zanu-PF is advocating the unconditional and total removal of the sanctions.

MDC-T negotiator, Mr Elton Mangoma, who has also taken part in the re-engagement meetings in Brussels, yesterday said he did not expect positive change from the EU.

He said no meetings had been convened between the EU and the re-engagement team since May last year.

"As far as we went to Brussels and met in May before the EU's last review meeting on Zimbabwe we have not given them any new information as the re-engagement team. I think they are going to assess us based on the information we gave them before May.

"We have not dialogued with them since May and there will be no new basis to review their stance.

"We had told them that we were going to have referendum and that has not happened. We are still squabbling with the draft constitution. If I for one is disappointed with the constitution-making process, what about the EU," said Mr Mangona.

However, Mrs Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga was somehow optimistic that something positive was likely to come out of the EU's February meeting.

"The EU indicated in their last review of the sanctions that they were going to review their position on Zimbabwe.

"They are re-engaging Zimbabwe on development matters and they are going to be funding us. We hope they are going to implement what they agreed to do.

"They have committed themselves to be implementing that and we know they are in the process of doing that," said Mrs Misihairabwi Mushonga.

When the EU members met in Brussels on 23 July 2012, the council adopted the following among other issues:

1. The EU is encouraged by the progress that is being made in implementing the Global Political Agreement by the Government of National Unity in Zimbabwe. It welcomes the constructive dialogue that has been established in the process of EU reengagement with all parties in the GNU, including through the meeting in May this year between High Representative Ashton and the members of the Zimbabwe Ministerial Reengagement Committee. The EU welcomes the continued commitment of Sadc to support the implementation of the GPA, as expressed at the recent extraordinary Sadc Summit in Luanda.

2. The steps taken by the GNU to improve the freedom and prosperity of the Zimbabwean people justify the immediate suspension of the measures hitherto applied under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement. This will allow the EU to work directly with the GNU to develop new assistance programmes for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe that would come on stream under the next European Development Fund.

3. The EU welcomes the recent visit to Zimbabwe of the UN HCHR at the invitation of the GNU. It recognises the improvement that has been achieved in the human rights situation although significant areas of concern remain.

4. As indicated in February this year and consistent with its incremental approach, the EU will further adjust its policy to recognise progress as it is made by the Zimbabwean parties along the Sadc roadmap. The EU agrees that a peaceful and credible constitutional referendum would represent an important milestone in the preparation of democratic elections that would justify a suspension of the majority of all EU targeted restrictive measures against individuals and entities.

5. The EU reaffirms its partnership with the people of Zimbabwe. It calls on all parties to seize the momentum to complete implementation of the GPA in preparation for elections next year. "

It is against this background that other members are pessimistic that the embargoes will be lifted given that certain issues such the holding of the referendum and other reforms that the EU wants have not been fulfilled.

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