Wednesday, February 17, 2010

European Union Extends Sanctions Against Zimbabwe

EU extends sanctions

Herald Reporters

THE European Union yesterday extended its illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe by another year, citing what it called "lack of progress in the implementation" of the Global Political Agreement.

The sanctions were first imposed in 2002 and have been renewed annually since then with the bloc gradually increasing the number of individuals and companies on the sanctions list.

In their official journal yesterday, the bloc said: "In view of the situation in Zimbabwe, in particular the lack of progress in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement signed in September 2008, the restrictive measures . . . should be extended for a further period of 12 months."

AFP reported that six individuals and nine companies had been removed from the sanctions list.

The individuals include late national heroes Cdes Vitalis Zvinavashe and Richard Hove.

Others are ex-Home Affairs Minister Dr Dumiso Dabengwa and Omani businessman Thamer ben al-Shanfari, who heads the Oryx Natural Resources company, which was also struck off the list.

Also removed was police Chief Superintendent Thomsen Jangara.

The renewed sanctions, which include an arms ban and restrictions on trade, will run until February 20, 2011.

AFP quoted Lutz Guellner, the spokesman for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, as saying they would review their action "if the current political situation improves".

The decision was made through a formal announcement in the EU’s official journal before the sanctions expired.

Internet news reports said EU foreign ministers would discuss the issue more fully in Brussels, Belgium, next week.

Government is expected to officially respond to the extension today.

The extension of the widely discredited sanctions is despite repeated calls for their removal by Sadc, the Pan African Parliament, the Non-Aligned Movement, Comesa and most recently the African Union passed its second such summit resolution.

Sadc has also issued two summit communiqu├ęs — in Tanzania in March 2007 and exactly two years later to the day in Swaziland in 2009 — urging the removal of the illegal sanctions.

Last month, the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, called for an end to the embargo that has suffocated the economy and caused untold suffering to ordinary citizens.

The EU and some private media organisations have tried to claim the sanctions are targeted at specific individuals while ignoring the fact that they have hindered Zimbabwe’s access to trade opportunities.

The EU has also opposed IMF extension of financial assistance to Zimbabwe and has instead opted to give food aid-related packages that do not benefit the national economy.

Companies are also barred from trading with their counterparts in the EU bloc.

A raft of undeclared sanctions have accompanied the illegal embargo and these have seen Germany refusing to supply Zimbabwe with banknote paper in breach of a standing contract and farmers failing to sell their produce in some EU markets because they are farming on land "stolen" from whites.

A 2006 EU study on the implementation of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement admitted sanctions were a political tool to manipulate the outcome of the 2002 Presidential election and punish Zimbabwe for embarking on the revolutionary land reform programme two years earlier.

The study, commissioned to evaluate the coherence, co-ordination and complementarity of Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, admitted the body precluded dialogue with Zimbabwe in a rush to impose sanctions.

Article 96 of the agreement, which brings together the EU and the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific bloc, outlines procedures to be followed should a country be deemed in violation of certain governance, rule of law and human rights requirements as defined in Article 8.

However, the EU flouted its own procedures so that they could sanction Zimbabwe.

The study also accepts that the so-called targeted sanctions have adversely affected the economy.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband recently told the UK House of Commons that they would wait for advice from MDC-T on how to proceed on the sanctions issue.

The United States has also imposed its own set of sanctions through what it calls the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act.

ZDERA bars US citizens on boards of multilateral financial institutions from supporting the extension of any money to Zimbabwe.

In fact, ZDERA indicates that sanctions will only be lifted if Zimbabwe reverts to pre-1998 tenure patterns when some 6 000 whites held land that was subsequently allocated to nearly 300 000 black families.

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