The Herald (Harare)

19 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Remove Sanctions Entirely - Govt

Photo: IRIN
A fresh produce market in Mbare, Harare.

Government says the suspension of some sanctions by the European Union is meaningless as the economic embargo that cost the country over US$42 billion in revenue over the past decade largely remains in place. The business community yesterday also said by keeping the President Mugabe and the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe on the embargo list, the EU continued 'stigmatising' the country and scaring away investors.

Industry captains said the fact that the EU wanted to directly work with Government from 2015 rather than through NGOs was an indication that the two parties needed each. The 28-member EU on Monday suspended illegal sanctions on eight service chiefs, politicians and war veterans, except the First Family.

Foreign Affairs deputy minister Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa said only removal of all sanctions would see Zimbabwe-EU relations normalising.

"They want to pretend they have done something significant, yet it is just a spasmodic move," he said.

"That is not what we want. We have condemned sanctions from the onset saying they are unjustified and we remain resolute in demanding that they be removed in totality. They stigmatise our country."

He added: "If President Mugabe remains on the sanctions list, it is just as good as Zimbabwe is on sanctions because he is the face of the country ... there is no justification for the sanctions to remain in place."

Ambassador Mutsvangwa said the coming on board of lobby groups like Zimbabwe Against Sanctions in denouncing the embargo showed that the punitive measures affected everyone.

"These are white people complaining that their business operations are being affected by the sanctions and this is a sign that what is needed is the unconditional lifting of the embargo," he said.

Business Council of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Mr Hlanganiso Matangaidze said what mattered most to Zimbabweans was an end to economic sanctions.

"The country needs trade and investment and this idea of removing travel bans on officials is just as good as a non-event," he said.

"Their move is the same old story that they have given us year in and year out. Do you think investors will come because eight officials have been removed from the list?

"These people are hypocrites who are just ashamed of coming out in the open once and for all announcing that they have lifted sanctions on Zimbabwe."

Mr Matangaidze went on, "A few days ago, we had parliamentarians from the EU who were from Portugal, Spain, Italy and Romania who are against this imposition of sanctions.

"It only shows that the British are at the forefront, wanting to continue internationalising their bilateral dispute with us."

EU lawmakers, led by European People's Party vice president Dr Mario David of Portugal, said were embarrassed to be part of a bloc that imposed unjustified sanctions.

Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo described the EU move as a 'piecemeal', adding that there was nothing to celebrate.

"We want total and irrevocable removal of sanctions," he said.

"We have said we are open to talking to the EU but they have to remove those sanctions, they are hurting our people."

The sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe in 2002 after Zimbabwe embarked on the fast-track land reform programme and in an attempt to influence that year's Presidential elections, which President Mugabe won nonetheless.

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