By Violet Gonda
22 March 2013
The European Union is set to lift sanctions on all but a few members of ZANU PF, as a reward for conducting a ‘peaceful’ constitutional referendum. This comes a month after they lifted a travel ban and asset freeze on 27 other people on the targeted sanctions list.
Reports say about 10 individuals from the banned list of 91, including Mugabe and security chiefs, will remain on the list.
Geoffrey Van Orden, a British member of the European Parliament, confirmed that they will be adjusting the restrictive measures on Zimbabwe and that the provisions on this would be taken within the next few days.
He said: “The referendum was certainly judged by SADC as being peaceful and credible and it was conducted reasonably well. As a result the EU proposal will show a serious reduction in the restrictive measures and in return for that we want reassurance that everything is going to go well for the elections.”
The developments come at a time when the MDC formations and rights groups say there is an increased crackdown on NGOs and rights defenders.
The MEP told SW Radio Africa: “We understand fully that the elections are the most important event but the motive behind this move to de-list some people is to show a sign of encouragement.
“My understanding is that even if some people are delisted they can be quickly put back on the list if there is any indication that things are not going properly in preparation for the elections.”
Van Orden, who has previously campaigned for the restrictions to remain, said if it was up to him he would have the EU wait a bit longer, but he said he understands the desire to indicate “not just to people in Zimbabwe but also to South Africa and other SADC countries, good intentions, that if they do move in the right direction they will be rewarded for this.”
He stressed that if there are “any suggestions of violence or the manipulation of the electoral procedures in the run up to elections,” then the EU will re-impose the restrictive measures.
ZANU PF has consistently said the targeted sanctions were illegally imposed and that they were a response to the violent seizure of white commercial farms.
The EU imposed the sanctions following the 2002 disputed presidential elections.