President Robert Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao’s wife Beauty and Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga’s estranged wife Jocelyn have been removed from Australia’s sanctions list.
State Security minister Sydney Sekeramayi’s spouse Tsitsi and other top Zanu PF stalwarts were also removed from the sanctions list announced by Australia last week.
The 10-year-old embargo targeted Zanu PF officials accused of perpetrating human rights violations. The restrictions also barred companies associated with Mugabe’s cronies from doing business with Australia.
Australia delisted 82 Zanu PF members after adjudging them as having “reformed” and posing no threat to restoration of democracy, rule of law, or progress under the power-sharing government of Mugabe and long-time protagonist Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The revised list was announced by the country’s acting Foreign minister Craig Emerson.
“Australia’s autonomous sanctions regime against Zimbabwe remains one of the world’s toughest,” he said.
“We will continue to uphold this until there is further progress towards democracy and respect for the rule of law in Zimbabwe.”
The relaxation of Australia’s travel and economic embargo follows the lifting of restrictive measures by the European Union on 51 individuals and 20 entities from the visa ban and asset freeze list under similar conditions. However, 112 individuals and 11 companies were retained on the list.
But senior Zanu PF officials dismissed the delisting as a “non-event” meant to divide the party. Zanu PF, which still insists the sanctions are hurting ordinary people, said it has taken the issue to the United Nations.
Among those removed from Australia’s sanctions are Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde and the party’s ousted MP for Marondera East, Tracy Mutinhiri, Mashonaland West provincial chairman John Mafa, politburo members Kumbirai Kangai and Joshua Malinga, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority CEO Karikoga Kaseke, former Attorney-General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele and former Finance minister Christopher Kuruneri.
Other Zanu PF politburo members, Naison Ndlovu, Richard Ndlovu and the late Retired General Solomon Mujuru, who died in a farmhouse inferno last August, were also removed from the list.
The list also includes Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono’s former adviser Munyaradzi Kereke, former Zupco chairman Charles Nherera, former Zimpapers chairman Herbert Nkala, former Zanu PF secretary for science and technology George Nyathi, and former Health minister Timothy Stamps.
Also cleared to travel to Australia are former Lands secretary Tobias Takavarasha, former NSSA general manager Amod Takawira, Jabulani Tshawe, former Zanu PF provincial chairman for Bulawayo, and Economic Development deputy minister Samuel Undenge (Zanu PF), among others.
Relations between Zimbabwe and Australia have been far from cordial since the turn of the millennium after Mugabe led a violent land reform programme.
At one time, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard described President Mugabe as a “grubby dictator”.
In 2002, Australia imposed sanctions on the Zimbabwe government. The sanctions were extended and strengthened in 2007.
In 2009, children of Zanu PF chefs including Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Gender minister Olivia Muchena, the late Governor of Harare Metropolitan Province, David Karimanzira, daughter of Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and Gono’s two children were deported.