EU softens sanctions stance on Chiwenga and top soldiers

The European Union has softened its stance on Zimbabwe amid calls from the opposition for it to tighten its screws on Harare. The European Union imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe during the era of a violent land reform program which was introduced by former President Robert Mugabe.

Ahead of the EU council’s meeting on the Zimbabwe situation there were calls from the opposition and Britain for the European bloc to tighten its screws on Harare following violent protests which left close to 18 people dead.

The EU Parliament last week called for individual sanctions to be widened against top government and military officials, but EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels only agreed to maintain travel restrictions and an asset freeze on former President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, as well as the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

Contrary to wide calls to maintain sanctions on some military officials the EU has since placed Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda and Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri on a “suspended list” while former Central Intelligence Officer boss Happyton Bonyongwe police chief Augustine Chihuri were spared.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was removed from the list 10 years ago.

The Movement for Democratic Change MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume said that the MDC will make sure that if they get into power they will mend relations with other countries, he accused the incumbent for frustrating relations.

“The issue of sanctions is a bilateral issue between the affected members and the EU. They know what they did to get those lists and they need to adjust their behaviours accordingly.

“When we get into power we will immediately deliver on the international relations. That (Sanction) they remain in place is an indictment on the behaviour of the current regime that the world is falling to immediately believe them,” said Mafume.

Commenting on Twitter Permanent Secretary of Information and Publicity Nick Mangwana said that the government welcomed the move.

“On the issue of EU sanctions, it is encouraging that the EU has vindicated the President’s engagement and re-engagement policy by not escalating sanctions as campaigned for by some of our own citizens. The progressive de-escalation whilst not as good as a total removal is positive,” Tweeted Mangwana.