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More bad news for Mnangagwa

by Staff reporter
17 Feb 2019 at 16:12hrs | Views
Zimbabwe should brace for more problems after the European Union (EU) Parliament proposed a fresh round of punitive sanctions this week against President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government, following a recent vicious crackdown against civilians by security forces.

This comes as the United Kingdom (UK) - which had until recently worked tirelessly to help Zimbabwe end decades of its frosty relations with Western powers - has said it is no longer willing to support Harare because of the alleged human rights violations.

It also comes as the EU is due to meet on Wednesday next week to review the sanctions which were slapped on ousted former president Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace and a few government officials who include Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

Other officials still on the European sanctions list  include Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda, former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) boss Happyton Bonyongwe and former police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri.

As part of at least 26 recommendations, the EU Parliament this week called on the European Council "to review its restrictive measures against individuals and entities in Zimbabwe, including those measures currently suspended, in the light of accountability for recent State violence".

The EU MPs also said bluntly that the "continued attacks, hate speech, smear campaigns, acts of intimidation and harassment and … acts of torture" against innocent Zimbabweans and human rights defenders had undermined democracy in the country.

In that light, they urged "the international community, notably the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the African Union (AU), to give more active assistance to Zimbabwe to find a sustainable democratic solution to the current crisis".

They also urged "neighbouring countries to comply with the provisions of international law and to protect those fleeing violence in Zimbabwe with the provision of asylum, especially in the short term".

This comes after Zimbabwe was last month thrown into a ginormous crisis when angry protesters flooded the streets of Harare, Bulawayo and several other towns across the country, demonstrating against sharp fuel price hikes.

Property worth millions of dollars was also destroyed and looted in the mayhem which ensued, after tens of thousands of workers heeded the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions' three-day strike call.

At the same time, security forces unleashed a brutal crackdown against the protesters, the opposition and civil society leaders - in a move which received wide condemnation in the country and around the world.

Rights groups also continue to report human rights abuses by security forces - including galling allegations that soldiers had raped women and girls during their much-condemned crackdown against innocent civilians.           

The EU parliamentarians also implored Mnangagwa to launch a thorough probe into the allegations levelled against the security forces, in addition to pulling the army away from high density suburbs.

They further called on Zimbabwean authorities "to undertake a prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigation into allegations of human riots violations and abuses, including rape and sexual violence by the security forces and to bring those responsible to justice".

Apart from investigating and prosecuting security forces found to have committed the alleged crimes, the EU MPs also called on the government to implement the findings of the commission of inquiry which was chaired by former South Africa president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Mnangagwa appointed the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry to probe the deaths of at least six civilians who were killed on August 1 in Harare's central business district, when the army used live ammunition to break ugly demonstrations which had rocked the capital.

Political analysts have said the post-July 30 election shootings, and the latest round of deaths from the January riots - as well as the vicious clampdown of dissenting voices in the country - had dented Mnangagwa's image significantly, in addition to harming his chances of getting financial support from Western countries.

Last week, UK minister for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, also warned that they were mulling widening the sanctions against Mnangagwa's government to include high-ranking military officials - in a move which was widely seen as dashing any last remaining hopes for the renewal of ties between Harare and London.

"The process of rolling up the EU (European Union) sanctions has come up and the UK has been arguing that it is not yet time for us to allow those to expire.

"And I think since the recent developments … we think there might be a case for widening it to include further individuals.

"We have been aware that the president has said that heads will roll, we haven't seen any specific heads rolling, but that might be a good example of the kinds of people who could then be further extended and we could include in the sanctions regime," Baldwin said.

Mnangagwa, who was feted like a king when he replaced Mugabe in November 2017, initially lifted the mood of crisis-weary Zimbabweans who were hopeful at the time that he would turn around the country's economic fortunes.

But his government's efforts to revive the economy by introducing a slew of economic stabilisation measures - which have been widely rejected by ordinary people - have been blamed for causing civil unrest.

Meanwhile, and following criticism of his government's handling of the recent protests, Mnangagwa has put in motion plans to launch a national dialogue, in a bid to end the country's myriad problems.

The president has already held talks about talks with some of his rivals from last July's presidential election, as part of his efforts to heal the ruling Zanu-PF's rift with the opposition ahead of the mooted national dialogue - which is being spearheaded by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).

However, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa - who has been brawling with the 76-year-old Zanu-PF leader since the outcome of the July 30 poll - snubbed the meeting as he insists on having an independent arbiter for the talks.

Source - dailynews