THE European Union announced on Friday it had lifted a travel ban and asset freeze on 51 Zimbabweans previously accused of aiding and abetting human rights abuses.
The EU also cleared 20 companies in a review of the sanctions first imposed in 2002 in response to claims of electoral theft and human rights violations by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.
Another 112 individuals, including Mugabe, and 11 entities will stay on the list. These people are seen as undermining democracy, human rights and the rule of law, said one European diplomat.
The EU's 27 member states also extended an arms embargo and a freeze on development aid to Zimbabwe.
Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo led a cast of Zanu PF politicians who had sanctions lifted against them, but he insisted it was not time to celebrate, calling the embargo "racist" and "illegal".
Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa have their visa bans suspended so that they can take part in talks with the EU.
"The EU... welcomes progress made towards the creation of a conducive environment for the holding of free, fair, peaceful and transparent elections," the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said in a statement.
Six state media journalists – the Herald’s editor in chief Pikirayi Deketeke, the paper’s assistant editor Caesar Zvayi, the Sunday Mail’s political editor Munyaradzi Huni, ZBC boss Happison Muchechetere, reporter Judith Makwanya and chief reporter Reuben Barwe – have been removed from the sanctions list.
The EU also lifted sanctions on several senior Zanu PF figures, wives of party officials and military chiefs, as well as two white businessmen who were accused in the past of bankrolling Mugabe.
Former Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, former Midlands governor July Moyo, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s wife, Monica, and army commander General Constantine Chiwenga’s ex-wife, Jocelyn, join billionaire businessmen Muller Conrad ‘Billy’ Rautenbach and John Arnold Bredenkamp who now have restrictions lifted on their travel and business activities.
Reacting to the announcement, Gumbo said the EU should scrap all sanctions, calling them "illegal" and blaming them for damaging Zimbabwe's economy.
"The whole sanctions regime is illegal and racist, and we are not going to celebrate decisions meant to patronise us while they act as lords over our political affairs," he told Reuters.
"It's very tragic that the EU is still being used by some of its members, principally Britain, in pursuing a neo-colonial agenda to remove Zanu PF from power."
Analysts say the sanctions have been exploited by Mugabe for his political purposes, blaming them for his party's economic blunders that have caused what once was one of Africa's richest nations to now be among its poorest.
Mugabe, who was forced into a coalition government with rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after disputed elections in 2008, accuses the EU of backing Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The EU’s Ashton said the EU was open to serious political dialogue with Zimbabwe. But while acknowledging that "the overall situation in Zimbabwe has improved", she said further reforms were necessary.
"The EU remains ready to reconsider the measures at any time in response to concrete progress in the implementation of the GPA (a power-sharing agreement) and the preparation of credible and peaceful elections."
The MDC-T refused to comment on the sanctions.
"That issue is between Zanu PF and the EU, and we don't want to get involved because it will give Zanu PF a platform for more propaganda," an MDC-T spokesman said.
The following individuals have been removed from the European Union sanctions list:
· Barwe, Reuben 3
· Bredenkamp, John Arnold 5
· Chimbudzi, Alice 15
· Chimedza, Paul 16
· Chimutengwende, Chenhamo Chekezha 17
· Chinamasa, Monica 18
· Chiremba, Mirirai 24
· Chitakunye, Eliphas 25
· Chiwenga, Jocelyn 27
· Chiwewe, Willard 29
· Chiwese, George 28
· Deketeke, Pikirayi 31
· Dube, Tshinga Judge 33
· Gumbo, Rugare Eleck Ngidi 36
· Hungwe, Josaya (a.k.a. Josiah) Dunira 39
· Hungwe, Josaya (a.k.a. Josiah) Dunira 39
· Huni, Munyaradzi 40
· Karimanzira, David Ishemunyoro Godi 43
· Kazembe, Joyce Laetitia 46
· Kereke, Munyaradzi 47
· Mahoso, Tafataona 58
· Makwanya, Judith 59
· Makwavarara, Sekesai 60
· Manyonda, Kenneth Vhundukai 63
· Matanyaire, Munyaradzi 67
· Mavhaire, Dzikamai 72
· Mbiriri, Partson 73
· Mombeshora, Millicent Sibongile 79
· Moyo, July Gabarari 82
· Muchechetere, Happison 88
· Mudzvova, Paul 96
· Mugabe, Leo 98
· Mujuru, Solomon T.R. 101
· Mukosi, Musoro Wegomo 102
· Mumbengegwi, Samuel Creighton 104
· Mutasa, Gertrude 110
· Mutasa, Justin Mutsawehuni 111
· Mutiwekuziva, Kenneth Kaparadza 114
· Muzenda, Tsitsi V. 116
· Muzonzini, Elisha 117
· Ncube, Abedinico 120
· Ndlovu, Sikhanyiso 121
· Nkala, Herbert 124
· Nyawani, Misheck 128
· Patel, Bharat 132
· Rautenbach, Muller Conrad (a.k.a. Billy) 134
· Sakabuya, Morris 138
· Samkange, Nelson Tapera Crispen 140
· Sandi, Eunice Moyo 141
· Shumba, Isaiah Masvayamwando 148
· Utete, Charles 159
· Zvayi, Caesar 163
The following companies have been removed from European Union sanctions:
· Alpha International (PVT) Ltd 1
· Breco (Asia Pacific) Ltd 2
· Breco (Eastern Europe) Ltd 3
· Breco (South Africa) Ltd 4
· Breco (UK) Ltd 5
· Breco Group 6
· Breco International 7
· Breco Nominees Ltd 8
· Breco Services Ltd 9
· Corybantes Ltd 12
· Echo Delta Holdings 14
· Masters International Ltd 18
· Ndlovu Motorways 19
· Piedmont (UK) Ltd 21
· Raceview Enterprises 22
· Ridgepoint Overseas Developments Ltd (a.k.a. Ridgepoint Overseas Developments Ltd) 23
· Scottlee Holdings (PVT) Ltd 24
· Scottlee Resorts Ltd 25
· Timpani Export Ltd 27
· Tremalt Ltd 28