EU hints on renewed Zim sanctions following army killings

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By Kingston Ndabatei

ZIMBABWE’S unrepentant government faces renewed European Union (EU) sanctions in the wake of recent army killings and claims of rape, among some serious rights violations pinned on the Emmerson Mnangagwa led administration.

In resolutions made by the influential EU Parliament late Thursday, the bloc wants sanctions that were suspended three years ago to be re-activated.

According to the resolutions, the EU parliament, “calls on the European Council to review its restrictive measures against individuals and entities in Zimbabwe, including those measures currently suspended, in the light of accountability for recent state violence.”

Led by former colonial master Britain back in 2002, the EU imposed an asset freeze, trade and travel embargo on then President Robert Mugabe, his inner circle and associated firms citing rampant rights abuses and poll fraud by the Harare administration.

The measures have been relaxed gradually in the intervening years.

Currently, only former Mugabe, his wife Grace and the Zimbabwe Defence Industries have effectively remained under EU sanctions.

An asset freeze and travel restrictions had been temporarily suspended for five officials including ailing Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and Commander Defence Forces Phillip Valerio Sibanda.

Hopes of a complete scrapping of the measures came when Mnangagwa seized power from his former boss with promises to restore rights, economic prosperity and a return to constitutionalism.

However, a disputed presidential election last year, coupled with the killing of over 20 civilians in two separate episodes of brutal state responses to civil unrest post-Mugabe rule, has brought the country back on the international radar for all the wrong reasons.

The proposed imposition of further sanctions will be discussed further when 28 EU Moreign Ministers meet in Brussels on February 18.

In the EU parliament resolutions, the bloc was also called upon to “step up its political dialogue with Zimbabwe on human rights on the basis of Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement” condemning the use of force by the state and violence by other actors.

“…Underlines its unanimous desire for Zimbabwe to become a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation in which all citizens are treated well and equally under the law and where the organs of the state act on behalf of the citizens and not against them.

“Strongly condemns the violence that occurred during the recent protests in Zimbabwe; firmly believes that peaceful protest is part of a democratic process and that excessive force in response must be avoided in all circumstances.”

Mnangagwa has promised to investigate claims of rape and brutality against citizens during fierce anti-government protests torched by a hike in fuel prices last month.

The President told foreign diplomats Thursday that his government will not allow the unnecessary use of force by the state apparatus.

“No one is above the law. Any evidence of rogue police officers or soldiers taking the law into their own hands will be dealt with and they will face the full wrath of the law,” said Mnangagwa.

With the situation rapidly deteriorating, Mnangagwa was urged to show that he was in control.

“Urges President Mnangagwa to remain true to his inaugural promises, to move rapidly to take control of the situation and to put Zimbabwe back on a path of reconciliation and respect for democracy and the rule of law,” said the EU group.