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EU tightens screws on Mnangagwa

by Staff reporter
18 Feb 2020 at 13:17hrs | Views
THE EUROPEAN Union (EU) yesterday tightened screws on President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government after they maintained sanctions against the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI), citing human rights abuses against civilians by the security forces.

The European Union Council of Foreign Ministers of all 27 member states of the group resolved to maintain the arms embargo to prod the Zimbabwean government to investigate the alleged role of the armed and security forces in human rights abuses.

"The arms embargo, as well as the asset freeze against Zimbabwe Defence Industries, do not affect the Zimbabwean economy, foreign direct investment, or trade. They are motivated by the EU's intention to encourage a demonstrable commitment by the Zimbabwean authorities to upholding the rule of law and human rights.

"Zimbabwe is going through a multifaceted, prolonged and deep crisis. The transition in Zimbabwe nevertheless opened doors for economic and political reforms which the then newly-elected government committed to implement."

Although Mnangagwa, who came to power after a military intervention in November 2017, has claimed that his government is different to that of his predecessor the late Robert Mugabe, some countries like the United States and EU member states accuse his government of closing the democratic space and violating human rights.

In 2018 after a poll that was narrowly won by Mnangagwa, the military shot and killed six people on the streets of Harare. The army was deployed to quell protests which erupted as people demanded the quick release of election results.

Mnangagwa has invested heavily in trying to have sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe removed. His government has engaged US lobby firms to convince America that it has turned a corner. He has also roped in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to lobby for the removal of sanctions.

At its 39th summit in Tanzania, in August last year, the 16-member Sadc declared October 25 as solidarity day against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West.

This, however, hasn't swayed the EU which said yesterday the country has to implement political and economic reforms to reduce the suffering of its people.

"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. The Economic Partnership Agreement, applied since 2012, remains a driver to attract both foreign and domestic investment," read part of the statement.

Despite the embargo on ZDI, the EU said it is for re-engagement with Zimbabwe, 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 EU is engaged on the basis of the Government's own agenda, in line with the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe, as well as the recommendations of both the Motlanthe Commission on post-electoral violence and the Final Report of the EU Electoral Observation Mission to Zimbabwe. The EU welcomes the resumption of a formal political dialogue in 2019, as a step towards a more constructive EU-Zimbabwe relationship.

"Zimbabwe is currently experiencing an acute humanitarian crisis, including a severe food security emergency further exacerbated by climate change. The EU is supporting the people of Zimbabwe in various sectors, such as economic development, primary health care, resilience building, as well as through humanitarian assistance. To that end, the EU has stepped up its support substantially since 2019," said the EU, adding that it would review the whole range of its policies on Zimbabwe any time in response to developments in the country.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sibusiso Moyo said, "We have taken note of European Union's position with regards to its long-standing sanctions regime against Zimbabwe, and welcome its decision to further ease, albeit only slightly, those measures.

"We view this development as an acknowledgement of progress made in terms of the broad reform agenda we have set ourselves, and to which we are fully committed. The reform agenda is a process rather than event and will take time to complete.

"We maintain that these and other sanctions measures imposed against Zimbabwe are unjustified and outdated, that actually hinder our reform trajectory, and that all the measures should be removed — especially when government is confronted by the daunting consequences of natural disaster and devastating drought," he said.

The Foreign Affairs minister added that Zimbabwe looked forward to continuing political engagement with the European Union under the recently resumed Article 8 dialogue process, the next session scheduled for June 2020.

"As we pursue our policy of re-engagement with all those who for whatever, reasons distance themselves from us, our emphasis extends beyond the political and, increasingly, is focused on the promotion of economic ties and on the identification mutually beneficial trade and investment opportunities.

"Our emphasis as Zimbabwe, is to move on from what has been a troubled relationship with the EU and, by the way of the new political and economic course articulated by His Excellency the President to forge an effective partnership free from all such historical impediments and baggage," Moyo said.

Source - dailynews