BY OBEY MANAYITI
THE European Union (EU) is set to hand down a new set of sanctions against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration in the wake of persistent human rights violations as well as the deteriorating socio-political and economic situation in the country.
Citing the recent protests and the subsequent deployment of security forces to violently quell demonstrations, which allegedly left 17 people dead, and failure to honour an earlier pledge by Mnangagwa to reform the country’s politics, the EU Parliament resolved on Wednesday to tighten the restrictive measures.
Mnangagwa was removed from the sanctions list along with many others in 2014, leaving only then President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.
Since taking over power in 2017 through a coup, Mnangagwa has presented himself as a reformist, saying he was willing to get along with former foes.
But the EU on Wednesday said Mnangagwa has been all talk with no action on the promised reforms.
In a statement on Wednesday, the EU Parliament 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”.
“(EU) urges 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,” the bloc said.
The bloc urged Mnangagwa to remain true to his early promises, and to move rapidly to take control of the situation and to put Zimbabwe back on a path of reconciliation and respect for democracy and the rule of law.
“(EU) urges the Zimbabwean authorities to put an immediate end to abuses by security forces and to promptly and impartially investigate all allegations of excessive use of force by police and state officials in order to establish individual responsibilities, with a view to ensuring accountability; recalls that the country’s constitution establishes an independent body to investigate complaints of police and military misconduct, but that the government has yet to set it up,” the statement said.
The EU said it underlined the fundamental role that the opposition plays in a democratic society, while raising concern over the harassment, detention and mass trial of suspected rioters.
The EU Parliament also condemned the Internet shutdown at the height of demonstrations, saying it was a ploy to conceal the human rights abuses committed by the army and police and to obstruct independent reporting and documentation of the abuses during the crackdown.
The bloc challenged Mnangagwa to implement recommendations by the EU observer mission following the July 30 elections.
The EU observer mission said the election did not pass international standards, and urged the Mnangagwa administration to look into reforming the electoral system, which they said was tilted towards the ruling party.
The bloc also urged dialogue among key stakeholders.
Dialogue between Mnangagwa and his main rival, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa, has remained elusive as both parties appeared to have failed to agree on the agenda or mediation for the talks.
Mnangagwa, along with former President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, are among the 141 individuals and entities under United States sanctions.
The EU lifted most of its restrictions in 2014, but has maintained sanctions against Mugabe and Grace.
Government has always blamed the sanctions for the collapse of the economy.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF said it was deeply concerned by the statements made by the United States government that Mnangagwa’s ruling party must dialogue with the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the US had a “Big Brother” mentality, vowing the ruling party would not bow to any form of pressure and would not take instructions from anyone.
“The Donald Trump administration does not have bite for moral authority to lecture Zimbabwe on how to conduct her affairs. There is no need for anyone to keep reminding the US that Zimbabwe is a sovereign State and that sovereignty is sacrosanct, hence, it must be respected by every nation, America included,” he said in a statement yesterday.