The European Union has ruled out lifting smart sanctions slapped on Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and his party members. Europe’s 27-member body says only free and fair elections could change the situation.
The EU said in a press conference in Harare on Friday, it will continue to enforce sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his party leadership. However, according to EU ambassador Aldo Dell'Aricia, relations between Europe and Zimbabwe are slowly improving.”We are confident that we are again on a good communication track and relationship with Zimbabwe”. Dell'Aricia said in a statement.
Prior to the EU announcement, President Mugabe dispatched three ministers to meet EU foreign affairs and security representative Catherine Ashton in Brussels to try and push the 27-nation bloc to lift the sanctions, which include an assets freeze and travel ban .
The EU sees the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe as an opportunity to review the situation.
Source of sanctions
Brussels imposed the so-called smart sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party leadership in 2002, following reports of election rigging and human rights abuses.
Ambassador Dell'Aricia says the punitive measures were taken after taking into consideration the electoral situation and serious human rights abuses committed in 2002. “The EU has been very clear that these measures will be lifted when credible elections, where people can express their wishes freely, as well as results which are respected by stakeholders, have taken place,” he said.
Mugabe blames the smart sanctions for Zimbabwe's economic decline.
According to one of his ministers, Elton Mangoma, who led the Zimbabwean delegation to Brussels, Zimbabwe would benefit from European funding.
“Zimbabwe would like investment,” Mangoma told DW. “I think Europe is a major source of assistance in terms of financing. At the stage Zimbabwe is, we would like to have strengthened access to those funds”.
Zimbabwe's agro-based economy is battling to recover after taking a nosedive in the late 1990s because of poor management and land-reform policies initiated by President Mugabe.
Most western nations have devoted their funding to ease the humanitarian crisis in the troubled nation as they cannot provide direct development aid.
Author: Columbus Mavhunga, Harare / cm
Editor: Susan Houlton