PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has said there is a possibility the European Union (EU) could lift its sanctions against Zimbabwe when the body reviews the measures in July.
Mugabe was speaking to reporters as he arrived in the Angolan capital Luanda Wednesday for a meeting of the SADC regional group where Zimbabwe’s political situation is expected to be discussed.
GPA negotiators Ministers Patrick Chinamasa [Zanu PF], Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga [MDC] and Elton Mangoma [MDC-T] met the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton early this month as the government pushes for the removal of the sanctions.
Mugabe said the EU had promised “to review the matter and eventually lift the sanctions” at a meeting of all the 27 member countries in July.
A partial review of the sanctions in February saw Fifty-one individuals being removed from the list of people whose assets were frozen and who were not allowed visas to travel to the EU. Twenty entities will also be dropped from the list.
But another 112 individuals, including Mugabe, and 11 companies remained on the list for allegedly continuing to undermine democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the country.
The sanctions were imposed nearly a decade ago over allegations of human rights abuses and electoral fraud which Zimbabwe denies.
Mugabe has also dismissed EU claims that the sanctions merely target top Zanu PF and government individuals and state enterprises liked to human rights abuses, blaming them for the country’s near-economic collapse over the last few years.
UN rights chief, Navi Pillay also said the sanctions should, at least be suspended saying they had worsened the country’s economic problems with “quite serious ramifications” for the poorest and most vulnerable.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai also arrived in Luanda Wednesday for the SADC meeting after cutting short a week-long official visit to China.
Mugabe is expected to seek regional endorsement of his push for new elections this year. The Zanu PF leader says the polls are needed to replace a largely dysfunctional coalition government.
His rivals are however, demanding full implementation of political reforms to ensure a credible ballot.