BY XOLISANI NCUBE
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa and his top lieutenants in the military have been left out of the European Union (EU)’s latest sanctions list despite widespread calls for their censure over the army’s recent brutal crackdown on civilian protesters.
The EU imposed sanctions against former President Robert Mugabe’s government in 2000 and has since then maintained the restrictive measures, although gradually relaxing them to allow for implementation of political and economic reforms by the Zanu PF regime.
On Monday, the EU head of policy, Federica Mogherini said the bloc’s Foreign Affairs ministers decided not to add fresh names to the sanctions list, but kept Mugabe and his wife, Grace on the list as well as the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
“On Zimbabwe, there was a council decision today to uphold the embargo and restrictive measures against the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, to uphold individual restive measures against Robert Mugabe and Grace, to uphold suspended individual measures against the Vice-President (Constantino Chiwenga) the commander of Zimbabwe Defence Forces (Philip Vallerio Sibanda), the Minister of Lands and Agriculture (Perrance Shiri) and to lift two individual measures (Augustine Chihuri and Happyton Bonyongwe),” Mogherini said.
Ahead of the EU Council’s meeting on the Zimbabwe situation, there were calls from the British government to add more names on the sanctions lists after the recent crackdown by the military against protesters, leading to the death of at least 17 people, who were part of the protesting crowds.
However, the bloc said it would continue to monitor the situation, adding more names could be added to the list anytime.
The EU Parliament last week called for individual sanctions to be widened against top government and military officials.
“All decisions on listings, including new listings can be swiftly adopted if the situation requires it. We are monitoring the situation very closely and stand ready to adjust our decision,” the EU spokesperson said.
The Mnangagwa-led administration has been under spotlight since it deployed the army last month to quell protests which broke out after a 150% fuel price hike.
At least 17 people were killed, according to human rights groups, although government disputes the statistics.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday said the measures were “illegal and must be removed”.
“It is not about who is on the list, the fundamental truth is that sanctions are sanctions and they must go,” he said.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Jacob Mafume said Zanu PF should address concerns raised by those imposing sanctions on them and not abrogate blame on the opposition.
“The issue of sanctions is a bilateral issue between the affected members and the EU. They know what they did to get those measures and they need to adjust their behaviour accordingly,” he said.