In a surprise move which is a terrible blow to human rights groups and the Zimbabwe’s opposition parties, the European Union has eased sanctions on the country by removing two people that were listed although both were no longer in government and were part of the G40 faction of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.
The EU, which had threatened to impose stiffer sanctions on Zimbabwe because of the way it handled the 1 August demonstrations in which 6 people were killed and last month’s demonstrations in which some reports say 17 people were killed, lifted sanctions on former police chief Augustine Chihuri and former intelligence chief Happyton Bonyongwe.
It retained sanctions on former President Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace and Zimbabwe Defence Industries. It also maintained its arms embargo on the country and its suspended sanctions on Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Chief Philip Valerio Sibanda and Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri.
There were high expectations that the EU would impose stiffer sanctions on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration following its lengthy statement last week and Mnangagwa’s warning to demonstrators that they would face the wrath of the law if they staged further violent demonstrations.
Information secretary Nick Mangwana said the EU move was positive and vindicated Mnangagwa’s engagement and re-engagement policy.
“On the issue of EU sanctions, it’s encouraging that the EU has vindicated the President’s engagement and re-engagement policy by not escalating sanctions as campaigned for by some of our own citizens. The progressive de-escalation whilst not as good as a total removal is positive,” Mangwana tweeted.