Ball in Mugabe court

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The European Union (EU) on Monday met in Brussels and partly lifted sanctions on Zimbabwe in recognition of the helter-skelter political progress in implementing the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

It is common cause that the signing of the GPA in September 2008 and the inception of the inclusive government five months later brought relative political peace and stability in the country.

Painstaking and at times painful negotiations between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations in the government of national unity (GNU) resulted in reforms that have now been recognised by the EU. Among them, the appointment of constitutional commissions and the licencing of new newspapers.

The finalisation of the draft constitution and the envisaged reforms in the proposed new charter were the tonic the EU needed to partly lift sanctions on Zimbabwe. The country desperately needs development aid for social development to take place. The people of Zimbabwe have suffered a lot in the past decade and deserve a break.

“The steps taken by the GNU to improve the freedom and prosperity of the Zimbabwean people justify the immediate suspension of the measures hitherto applied under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement,” the EU said after the meeting of its Foreign Affairs Council on Monday.

“This will allow the EU to work directly with the GNU to develop new assistance programmes for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe that would come on stream under the next European Development Fund.”

The EU set benchmarks that would result in the total removal of sanctions and we fully support the club’s position.

The carrot and stick EU approach is appropriate at the moment to ensure that the Zanu PF component of the unity government does not renege on agreed positions and that reforms remain on course. We know what President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party are cable of doing to sabotage the path to free and fair polls and finally democracy.

“The EU will further adjust its policy to recognise progress as it is made by the Zimbabwean parties along the Sadc roadmap. The EU agrees that a peaceful and credible constitutional referendum would represent an important milestone in the preparation of democratic elections that would justify a suspension of the majority of all EU targeted restrictive measures against individuals and entities.”

That Mugabe and his inner circle remain on targeted sanctions should be motivation for the veteran nationalist and his party to move with speed and fully consummate the GPA.

Mugabe should embrace democracy and reforms.

The world will only be convinced if he moves swiftly to address our democratic deficits.

He needs to put an end to the re-emergence of political intimidation and violence, abrogate provisions of laws antithetical to democracy, free the airwaves and reform the security sectors, among others.

The ball is in Mugabe and his inner circle’s court to do what is right to have the sanctions imposed on them lifted.

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