Photo: South African DFA
|President Robert Mugabe remains unwelcome in Europe|
JOHANNESBURG, 16 February 2010 (IRIN) – The European Union’s decision to extend sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and senior members of the ruling ZANU-PF party was endorsed by a leading human rights organization.
“In view of the situation in Zimbabwe, in particular the lack of progress in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed in September 2008, the restrictive measures … should be extended for a further period of 12 months,” the Official Journal of the European Union reportedly said on 16 February 2010.
The EU first imposed sanctions on 18 February 2002, including travel bans and freezing bank accounts; the list has since grown to more than 200 targeted individuals and 40-odd companies linked to Mugabe and his party.
“These targeted sanctions are aimed solely at those whom the EU judges to be responsible for the violence, for the violations of human rights, and for preventing the holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe,” the EU said in a previous statement.
The EU resisted calls by bodies such as the Southern African Development Community to lift sanctions when Zimbabwe’s unity government was formed on 11 February 2009, and, along with the US – which has also imposed targeted sanctions – adopted a “wait-and-see” approach.
Mugabe and ZANU-PF have argued that Zimbabwe’s dire economic situation, near collapse of social services, and prolonged food insecurity are the consequence of these sanctions; Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, has blamed it on decades of misrule by Mugabe, who has held power since 1980.
Apparatus of oppression
The decision not to lift sanctions “shows that the EU is well aware that there have been no improvements of the human rights situation … [since the unity government was formed]. All [ZANU-PF’s] apparatus of oppression remain in place and I see no movement [towards democracy] as along as the status quo remains,” Tiseke Kasambala, a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, told IRIN.
She scoffed at fears that extending sanctions might make ZANU-PF adopt a more hardline stance. “In our view it will not make much of a difference as ZANU-PF has not complied at all with the GPA … Lifting sanctions would have been a tacit approval by the EU of ZANU-PF’s actions.”