THE European Union is easing sanctions against Zimbabwe in light of an agreement by the country's political parties on a draft constitution and the announcement of a referendum on it.
Foreign ministers from the 27 EU countries meeting Monday in Brussels said that, "recognising the significance of these advances," the EU was immediately suspending the travel ban it had imposed on six members of the government. It also removed sanctions from 21 other people and one company.
The names of those involved are not normally known until they are published in the EU's official journal, but we can reveal that the six delisted government officials are Information Minister Webster Shamu, Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, Minister of State in Vice President Joice Mujuru’s office Silverster Nguni, Environment Minister Francis Nhema, Small to Medium Enterprises Minister Simbiso Nyoni and Hebert Murerwa, who is Lands Minister.
Zanu PF officials David Chapfika, his company Divine Home (PVT) Ltd, Tinaye Chigudu, Cephas Msipa, Shadreck Chipanga, Shuvai Mahofa, Michael Nyambuya, Patrick Zhuwao, David Parirenyatwa and the late Vice President John Nkomo have also been removed from the blacklist.
The EU ministers also decided that the country's state-owned gold and diamond mining company would have sanctions lifted within one month of elections being held in Zimbabwe, provided the vote is peaceful and credible, EU officials said.
"The Council (of EU governments) agreed to delist the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) within one month after the presidential and parliamentary elections," Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told reporters.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague added: "We have shown by removing some individuals from the sanctions and travel ban that we will reward progress but also that we will keep certain measures in place including the listing of ZMDC for the duration of the coming election campaign.
"We want to see a properly conducted referendum and we want to see credible and properly conducted elections in Zimbabwe."
Announcing the development to reporters in Harare Monday, EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia said a peaceful referendum on March 16 will see the EU suspending all sactions unconditionally.
“A peaceful referendum followed by a credible election will attract an immediate suspension of these measures,” Aldo Dell’Ariccia added.
The foreign ministers call on all political parties to "maintain the momentum allowing for the holding of democratic elections later this year."
They said in a statement: "As stated in the Council Conclusions of July 2012, a peaceful and credible constitutional referendum would represent an important milestone justifying an immediate suspension of the majority of all remaining EU targeted restrictive measures against individuals and entities."