European Union calls on Zimbabwe to accelerate reforms

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BRUSSELS – The European Union (EU) wants to engage the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and key financial institutions this year in its bid to get Zimbabwe’s main rival political parties, Zanu-PF and the MDC Alliance, talking.

With the country facing its worst drought in a decade and ongoing economic failure, political legitimacy and corruption are at the centre of Zimbabwe’s woes after a disputed July 2018 general election.

As such, in its periodic review of sanctions and the political situation in Zimbabwe, the EU observed that an active role by regional and neighbouring countries could push Zimbabwe in the right direction.

“The EU will seek increased collaboration with international partners, most importantly the African Union, Sadc and its member countries, and international financial institutions, which can play a key role by supporting Zimbabwe in enabling an inclusive dialogue and in accelerating progress in reforms,” said the EU.

It called on Zimbabwe to act fast for the benefit of its people.

“The lack of substantial reforms, the further shrinking of democratic space and corruption has contributed to the current deteriorating humanitarian crisis and to the economic and social situation. The EU calls on the government to accelerate the political and economic reform process as a matter of urgency, for the benefit of its population.

“Perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses should swiftly be brought to justice,” it added.

But Harare insists that it has already achieved most of the set reforms, while Sadc, through its executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, has been repeating that sanctions are detrimental to the cause of Zimbabwe.

The EU took a relaxed stance on sanctions by removing some senior government officials from the list, such as vice-president Constantino Chiwenga and lands, agriculture, water and rural resettlement minister Perrance Shiri — both key players in the November 2017 coup that led to the fall of the late Robert Mugabe.

Foreign affairs and international trade minister Sibusiso Moyo said in a statement that the sanctions decision by EU was “minimal” but commendable.

“We have taken note of the European Union position with regard to its long-standing sanctions regime against Zimbabwe and welcomed its decision to further ease — though slightly — those measures,” he said.