Robert Mugabe's Justice Minister detained in Germany
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa was detained for almost three hours at Germany’s Munich airport on Thursday, when he was on his way to attend the European Union-Zimbabwe talks in Brussels, Belgium.
Chinamasa was part of a three-member ministerial delegation that flew to Brussels via Germany. The other two are head of delegation Energy Minister, Elton Mangoma and International Cooperation Minister, Priscilla Mishairabwi-Mushonga.
The duo had to delay their departure to Brussels waiting for Chinamasa to be cleared by Germany authorities to proceed to Belgium. A source in Brussels told SW Radio Africa that immigration officials in Munich were not expecting Chinamasa to pass through the city, following a glitch with the route their plane took.
Initially the three ministers were expected to change planes in Frankfurt after flying from Johannesburg. Authorities in Frankfurt knew of Chinamasa’s arrival and he had already been cleared to proceed to Brussels. The Justice Minister is on a travel ban of EU countries and needed a special dispensation from the EU to travel to Brussels.
Zimbabwe and the EU began talks on Friday to try to revive relations, strained for the past decade over Robert Mugabe’s controversial rule and blotted human rights record.
The talks were initially planned for April but were cancelled because the delegation could not fly out of Harare because of the Icelandic volcanic eruption that spewed ash across European skies, forcing cancellation of flights.
Relations between Brussels and Harare took a hit following the holding of the violence-marred presidential poll, ‘won’ by Mugabe in 2002. The EU and its Western allies condemned the election as a fraud and imposed visa and financial sanctions against Mugabe and his top allies in ZANU PF and in the military.
ZANU PF hope to use the talks with the EU to push for lifting of these targeted sanctions on the ruling elite, but analysts do not see Brussels scrapping these punitive measures, until calls for more political and democratic reforms in Zimbabwe are heeded.
The EU has consistently said that it was not appropriate yet for sanctions to be removed, saying the pace of reforms was too slow. Analysts told us the Zimbabwe delegation will find it hard to push for the removal of sanctions when Mugabe and ZANU PF were hindering progress by failing to implement issues already agreed upon in the Global Political Agreement.
Mugabe has complicated the situation by persistently dragging his heels on issues already resolved. When inter-party negotiators to the GPA concluded their talks on April 3, they submitted a detailed document titled ‘implementation matrix’ to their principals.
A source told us the document outlines issues which negotiators agreed upon and recommends how the issues should be implemented.
Negotiators in the talks included Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche for ZANU PF, Tendai Biti and Mangoma for the MDC-T, and Welshman Ncube and Misihairabwi-Mushonga for the MDC-M.
It is believed negotiators from the three parties have also raised concerns at the slow pace to implement issues they agreed upon. They insist that had the principals acted, the process would have significantly moved forward and enhanced chances of the EU looking positively at the request by ZANU PF to lift targeted sanctions.
Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga urged the unity government to commit to human rights reforms saying the power-sharing pact provides a framework for change, but commitment to its implementation is lacking.
‘The issue of sanctions is more of a rhetorical exercise rather than something of substance. The failure to introduce reforms of the police, army and security forces, or address impunity are real obstacles that need to be addressed urgently,’ Mavhinga said.
He said the government must give as much attention to securing human rights reforms as they are to seeking the removal of targeted sanctions