EU suspends sanctions on VP Chiwenga, Perrance Shiri, Grace Mugabe
The European Union (EU) has, with immediate effect, suspended sanctions on four political and military heavyweights in Zimbabwe who include Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and former First Lady Grace Mugabe, the widow of the former president of Zimbabwe Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
The other individuals are Agriculture Minister and former Air Force of Zimbabwe boss Perrance Shiri, and the current Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander, Philip Valerio Sibanda.
At the same time, the EU says it has extended the sanctions on the military-owned Zimbabwe Defense Industries (ZDI) for a further year saying that the Zimbabwean authorities are yet to investigate the alleged role of the armed and security forces in human rights abuses.
The ZDI is the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ arms manufacturer and supplier.
In a statement on Monday, the EU said the absence of reforms and corruption had contributed to the crisis in the country.
“The lack of substantial reforms, the further shrinking of democratic space and corruption, have however contributed to the current deteriorating humanitarian crisis and to the economic and social situation,” said the EU.
The EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe after then President Robert Mugabe deported its chief election observer in 2002, but has gradually peeled back its measures to leave only sanctions on the ZDI and a travel ban and asset freeze on the late Mugabe and his wife, Grace.
Zimbabwe opened formal talks with the EU in 2019, which was the first time since the EU withdrew support to the country and imposed sanctions. The talks were an early sign of thawing relations, but the EU said full ties would be restored if Zimbabwe institutes reforms, including bringing human rights violators to book.
“The EU calls on the government to accelerate the political and economic reform process as a matter of urgency, for the benefit of its population. Perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses should swiftly be brought to justice and the recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry should be implemented without further delay,” the EU said.
“Seizing opportunities for real transformation would facilitate steps towards deeper re-engagement of the EU, based on mutual commitments and shared values in line with the 2030 Agenda, and focused on human rights, democracy, governance and the rule of law.”
The statement also urged an “inclusive national dialogue” which it said was “key to finding structural and durable solutions to the challenges faced by Zimbabwe”.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his rival, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, are deadlocked over how to approach talks to end the row over the 2018 elections.
President Mnangagwa says Chamisa should join other parties under POLAD, the platform Mnangagwa set up in 2018 to allow cross-party dialogue.
However, Chamisa, who disputes the election results, wants direct talks that would lead to a new transitional authority leading the country, but Government and Zanu-PF spokespersons have made it clear that there will not be any dialogue outside the POLAD, which Chamisa snubs.
The Zimbabwe government says its economic reforms have been crippled by Western sanctions. However, the EU, in its latest statement, says “sound political and economic governance are paramount if the business and investment climate in Zimbabwe is to be improved, and inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development are to be achieved”.
In 2018, the EU was Zimbabwe’s fifth largest trading partner, with Zimbabwe exporting goods worth 450 million Euro against imports of 223 million Euro.