The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: EU States Mull Scrapping Sanctions

Antwerp — More members of the European Union are seriously contemplating rescinding their position on illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe following the failure by the bloc to sustain their allegations of poll fraud.

Ambassador to Belgium Mrs Margaret Muchada said in an interview yesterday that it had become clear that the bloc had not been prepared for the outcome of the July 31 harmonised elections, which President Mugabe and Zanu-PF resoundingly won.

Ambassador Muchada is based in the Belgian capital, Brussels, where the EU headquarters is also located.

"The vibe from EU members who confer with us and with their missions in Harare is that individual members are ready to engage with Zimbabwe," she said.

"They were prepared for a situation in which there was not going to be an outright winner. They were stunned with the outcome of the elections which were free, fair and credible and held to be the expression of wishes of the people of Zimbabwe."

Ambassador Muchada said indications were that the EU members were divided over the sanctions and soon it would be left up to individual members to pursue the illegal embargo.

She said the EU was battling to realign itself with its earlier pronouncements that it would go according to the election observer reports by Sadc and the African Union. Sadc and the AU recently released their final reports on the July 31 harmonised elections which they said were free, fair and reflected the will of Zimbabweans. Other election observer missions made the same observations and President Mugabe has received congratulatory messages from bodies such as the United Nations for winning the elections.

"EU committed itself to be bound by the Sadc and the AU elections reports. The reports are out and gave the green light to the elections," said Ambassador Muchada.

"This alone has put the EU in a situation where it has to realign itself. Either it goes ahead and maintain its position or it absolves itself. They assumed that there was going to be a second round for the elections and they did not have a plan B."

The EU and the United States imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe following a bilateral dispute with Britain over the successful redistribution of land that saw formerly marginalised blacks venturing into farming. Belgium was the first to break ranks with the EU on the illegal sanctions when it pushed for the embargo to be removed on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation to allow the marketing of Marange diamonds at Antwerp.

The sanctions were eventually lifted by the EU on September 23 and the country's vast diamond reserves that are tipped to command nearly 30 percent of the international market can be auctioned at the world's largest bourse in Antwerp.

ZMDC, the State enterprise, is in partnerships with five diamond mining companies in Marange, and its operations have all been certified by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

The joint venture mines in the Marange diamond fields produced a combined eight million carats of the gems last year and generated US$684,5 million in exports.

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