By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
28 February 2014
The European Union (EU) has this week been further criticised for its decision to ease targeted restrictions against key members of the Robert Mugabe regime, with the bloc being slammed for ‘forsaking’ Zimbabweans.
The EU earlier this month suspended its targeted measures against eight ZANU PF officials, but kept the restrictions on Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace. Among those targeted were army generals and senior intelligence officers, including the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and Zimbabwe’s Intelligence Chief and Chief of Police.
The European bloc had previously said the restrictions would not be removed until there was real democratic change as a result of a free and fair election in Zimbabwe. But its latest move has come in the absence of this and the EU has since faced criticism for condoning not only the disputed elections last July, but also the culture of impunity, corruption and other issues that highlight ZANU PF’s brand of political control.
Zimbabwean economist and commentator Vince Musewe said Friday that it was for this reason that he wrote a letter of protest to the EU this week.
“The reasons why the sanctions were put into place was because there was no democracy, and the whole idea of the measures was to reform the system in Zimbabwe and move towards democracy. That hasn’t happened and now we see the EU coming to ease the sanctions, and for me there is no logic behind this,” Musewe told SW Radio Africa.
Musewe wrote in his letter to the EU: “Your recent actions to effectively support and inadvertently strengthen those whom have caused much pain to millions of us and have forsaken the ideals of the liberation struggle. I pray that Zimbabwe will rise notwithstanding.”
He said Friday that the EU’s decision was motivated by the commercial and economic interests that some EU members have in Zimbabwe, such as Belgium. Belgium, the diamond capital of Europe, spearheaded the initiative to remove restrictions against ZANU PF’s mining parastatal, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) last year. That has directly resulted in Zimbabwe’s controversial diamonds being sold in Belgium’s diamond hub, Antwerp. Musewe said these “vested interests” mean the targeted measures have been removed for the wrong reasons.
“This will just allow army people and those others to travel to Europe. It won’t do the country any good. It is more about them (the EU) than about us,” Musewe said.
He said that ZANU PF’s “emotional chorus” that the measures ‘hurt’ Zimbabwe have been part of the party’s propaganda campaign, with the party using the so-called ‘sanctions’ as the scapegoat for all the country’s problems.
“ZANU PF is scared to accept the reality that they have failed, so they need to find scapegoats for everything. Even if you remove them (the targeted sanctions), they will find more excuses,” Musewe said.
He continued that the EU, rather than removing the restrictions, should have stood by its own commitments to democracy and maintained the measures until there was real change in Zimbabwe. He then called on the European bloc, along with other international bodies and governments, to support democratic forces in the country, until such change is achieved.
“The international community needs to be steadfast and needs to support the democratic movement in Zimbabwe. They need to do so until we see change,” Musewe said.
Meanwhile an EU delegation in Zimbabwe earlier this month said the bloc’s move was taken as a step towards the ‘normalisation’ of relations with Zimbabwe. They insisted the targeted measures had not been removed, but had been suspended, meaning they could be re-imposed at any time.