(Last Updated on February 19, 2021 by GERALD NCUBE)
HARARE – The European Union (EU) has renewed its arms embargo and assets freeze against the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI), citing lack of substantial reforms and the deepening human rights violations among other concerns.
In a statement, the EU said it was concerned with the lack of meaningful reforms and the proliferation of arrests and prosecution of dissenting voices and critics in the country including journalists.
“The EU recalls the Council Conclusions of 17 February 2020 and notes with concern that Zimbabwe’s multifaceted and prolonged crisis has further deepened.
“The lack of substantial reforms has allowed the continued deterioration of the humanitarian, economic and social situation. Violations of human rights and limitations on the democratic space are also persisting. The EU is especially concerned about a proliferation of arrests and prosecutions of journalists, opposition actors and individuals expressing dissenting views, and the use by high-level officials of speech that could be interpreted as incitement to violence…
“In light of its continuing concerns, the EU has reviewed its restrictive measures, recalling their purpose to encourage a demonstrable, genuine and long-term commitment by the Zimbabwean authorities to respect and uphold human rights and the rule of law. The EU has decided to renew its arms embargo and to maintain a targeted assets freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, taking into account the situation in Zimbabwe, including the continuing need to investigate the role of security force actors in human rights abuses,” read the statement.
It further clarified that these measures will not affect the people of Zimbabwe in relation to trade, foreign direct investment and the economy noting that the country continues to benefit from various export concessions with the EU.
The EU added that the political and economic reforms were critical to building a conducive climate to attract investors into the country.
“Accelerated political and economic reforms, respect for human rights, boosting trust in the rule of law and tackling corruption would contribute significantly to investor confidence, build a steady business climate and facilitate Zimbabwe in taking full advantage of the opportunities the EPA provides.
“The EU reiterates its readiness to support credible and sustainable economic and political reforms, based on tangible commitments made by the Government of Zimbabwe,” the statement further read.
Zimbabwe has in the last seven years received over €400 million in terms of development and humanitarian aid from the EU.
This development comes yet as another blow to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s re-engagement efforts with the West.
Earlier this year, the United Kingdom announced its first unilateral targeted sanctions on Mnangagwa’s key security allies whom it considered to have been responsible for some of the human rights violations that have happened particularly since November 2017.
During the early days of his presidency, Mnangagwa promised to make the necessary reforms and mend relations with the West following years of isolation.
However, after failing to make substantial inroads on the reforms front, his government has resorted to the same old Robert Mugabe style of attacks and masking every failure with the sanctions rhetoric.