Zim Sanctions Changes: Much Ado About Nothing
Harare – Last week’s decision by the European Union to suspend travel sanctions on six Zimbabwean cabinet ministers and 21 other individuals is an effort to cause divisions in the country, a senior government official has said.
Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said as long as one Zimbabwean remained on sanctions, then the whole country was embargoed.
His views were echoed by ZANU-PF Secretary for Information and Publicity, Rugare Gumbo who said the EU was trying to divide and rule Zimbabwe.
The EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in early 2002 in a bid to influence that year’s Presidential election against ZANU-PF’s President Robert Mugabe, who nonetheless went on to win that poll and two others after that.
The sanctions include cutting of budgetary support, an embargo on trade with key state enterprises, and travel restrictions on individuals in ZANU-PF and government.
Minister Mumbengegwi said, “The sanctions should be removed in totality and unconditionally. These efforts to try and divide us will never work.”
Gumbo added: “ZANU-PF will never accept any conditional removal of the illegal sanctions or any self serving initiatives meant to advance the economic interests of Western nations.
“Lifting of illegal sanctions must be unconditional and total. Moreover, selectively removing names and organisations from the sanctions list only serves to sow the seed of division and unnecessary mistrust among Zimbabweans.
“The party insists on unequivocal lifting of all illegal sanctions…
“They were not sanctioned by the United Nations or by the Cotonou Agreement between the EU and African-Caribbean-Pacific countries.”
The sanctions were ostensibly imposed under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.
However, a 2006 EU study on implementation of the Agreement conceded that the sanctions had been imposed without following procedures, the implication being that they are illegal.
The Agreement came into force in 2000 as a replacement of the 1975 Lomé Convention as a framework to guide relations between 77 countries from the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific bloc and the EU.
Article 96 of the CPA outlines the procedures to be followed if a country is deemed to be in violation of governance, rule of law and human rights requirements as defined in Article 8.
Page 73 of the study says, “The fact that the EU decided to commence the Article 96 process (to impose sanctions) even though no effective dialogue had taken place under Article 8 points toward incoherence in the EU approach, since the aim of the EU had been to proceed to Article 96, only if dialogue did not solve the problem.
“The explanation for the haste was the forthcoming elections (2002 Presidential elections). In other words, foreign policy goals were safeguarded and considered more important than the partnership principle in the Cotonou Agreement.”
According to the Agreement, countries should engage in dialogue for up to 60 days over any contentious issues and the accused should have a chance to respond to any allegations before a decision is made, which was not the case with Zimbabwe.
“The Commission and the Council Secretariat were already preparing the papers for the passing of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
“This again points to incoherence as the EU was not waiting for Zimbabwe's response, even though the aim of the consultations had been to try and solve the problem,” the study says.
Further, page 19 of the reports points out the lie in the claim that the sanctions do not affect Zimbabwe’s economy: “Since any sanctions or even a threat of sanctions can have negative impacts on the economy (for investments for instance), it is easy to blame the EU for all economic difficulties the country is facing.”
The EU suspended budgetary support under the 7th and 8th European Development Funds National Indicative Programmes, suspended all financial support for basically all projects, redirected most funding to NGOs that are opponents of President Mugabe, and suspended the signature of the 9th EDF National Indicative Programme under the Cotonou Agreement among other sanctions.