By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
26 February 2014
The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) wants Europe to lift all targeted sanctions against the ZANU PF regime.
The group says the restrictive measures have isolated Zimbabwe and lifting them will enable the country to fully its international human rights duties.
“The total lifting of measures will enable both parties to engage on the developmental challenges in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe will not be able to fully implement her international human rights obligations while isolated from that same community,” NANGO said in a statement.
NANGO executive officer Cephas Zinhumwe said the call was based on a survey they did last year which concluded that the restrictive measures had achieved little.
“So we met the EU ambassadors here and during the discussions we considered who the real beneficiaries from these sanctions were,” Zinhumwe said.
“Many people and political parties are hiding behind these sanctions. When the weather is too hot, someone will say it’s because of the measures so we felt it was time for dialogue between the ZANU PF government and the EU.”
Zinhumwe said NANGO is fully aware that the restrictive measures were a consequence of the Zim government’s unwillingness to stem human rights abuses.
However he said the suspension of the restrictions on all but two ZANU PF individuals – Mugabe and his wife – demonstrated the EU’s willingness to engage in dialogue.
“The common person on the street has been asking for dialogue between the two groups and that is what NANGO is encouraging,” he added.
Zinhumwe said NANGO’s call for the total lifting of the measures was not a show of solidarity with ZANU PF or anyone on the EU list.
“We are older than all these political parties including ZANU PF and our position is based on our analyses. We are not influenced by anyone except the ordinary person on the street,” he added.
In its statement, NANGO said the targeted measures made it difficult for ordinary Zimbabweans to conduct international transactions since some of the financial intermediaries were on the list of measures, having a multiplier effect on depositors and their business partners.
Dewa Mavhinga, senior researcher with the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch, said Zimbabwean groups should be focusing on pertinent issues of how to deal decisively with corruption, “rather than the sterile debate about non-existent sanctions”.
“As Human Rights Watch we do not believe that there is any basis at the moment for a shift in the EU position on the measures with regards to a fundamental improvement in the human rights environment in Zimbabwe.”
The measures consist of an arms embargo as well as a travel and financial ban against President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.
In 2002, the EU applied the restrictive measures on 192 ZANU PF officials and 87 entities linked to the regime in response to human rights abuses.
Mavhinga said it was impossible to see how restrictions targeting two individuals affected the generality of Zimbabweans.
He said those lobbying for the lifting of restrictive measures, on the basis that Zimbabweans were failing to carry out financial transactions internationally, were missing the point.
“People must distinguish between the EU targeted measures and the suspension of Zim by global lenders following its failure to meet its obligations and service its debts.
“It will be politicking of the highest order to insist that the EU targeted measures have an impact on ordinary Zimbabweans. What has affected them is the endemic, cancerous corruption and the failure by government to provide citizens with clean water to drink, electricity as well as medicines,” the human rights campaigner said.