19 February 2014

Zimbabwe: The Symbolic Hypocrisy of the EU's Mugabe Sanctions


The European Union has lifted almost all its sanctions against Zimbabwe's political and business elite. With one rather significant exception: Mugabe is still on the blacklist (no pun intended, although it might just be appropriate), and he would be well within his rights to wonder what he's done to deserve this special attention. Sure, he's a brutal, oppressive autocrat, but he's not the only one.

There was a time, not so long ago, when 203 Zimbabwean people and companies were blacklisted by the European Union, caught up in the 'targeted sanctions' designed to punish the Zimbabwean government's human rights violations and encourage regime change. Those on the list were, in theory, prevented from travelling to the European Union, or doing business there, and their assets were frozen.

As of Monday, there are now just three names left on that list: Comrade-in-Chief Robert Gabriel Mugabe; his wife, Grace; and Zimbabwe Defence Suppliers, an arms dealer.

As the political situation in Zimbabwe has stabilised, so the European Union has quietly rewarded Zimbabwe's top businessmen and ruling elite by lifting the restrictions against most of them.

As sanctions go, these were always mostly symbolic, and their targets didn't seem to ...

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