HARARE, (New Ziana) – The government on Monday welcomed the easing of European Union (EU) sanctions on the country, but reiterated its call for the total scrapping of the the penalties.
The bloc on Monday suspended sanctions against Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and three other top officials, but kept in place an arms embargo and penalties on a state-owned defence firm.
The other officials taken off the sanctions list, albeit temporarily, are Agriculture Minister Perrence Shiri,Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Phillip Valerio Sibanda and former First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Reacting to the move, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Sibusiso Moyo said though welcome, the EU sanctions belonged to the past, and should be totally scrapped.
The country estimates the sanctions, imposed two decades ago to force the government to re-think its land reform policy, had cost the economy nearly US$100 billion.
The land reforms involved compulsory acquisition of excess farmland from white farmers to resettle landless peasants.
Moyo said the EU’s partial lifting of its sanctions was an acknowledgment of progress the government was making in its multi-pronged reform agenda, as well as its re-engagement efforts.
Since taking office in 2017, the new government has sought to re-engage friends and foes alike to open a new page in relations, and end nearly two decades of isolation.
“We view this development as an acknowledgement of progress made in terms of the broad reform agenda we have set ourselves and to which we are fully committed. The reform agenda is a process rather than an event and it will take time to complete,” Moyo said.
“We maintain that these and other sanctions measures imposed against Zimbabwe are unjustified and outdated: that they actually hinder our reform trajectory, and that all such measures should be removed, especially at a time government is confronted by the daunting consequences of natural disaster and devastating drought.”
He lauded the EU for its continued humanitarian support for Zimbabwe in spite of the existence of sanctions.
Zimbabwe and the EU have since entered into formal dialogue to narrow their differences on a range of issues, with a view to normalising relations.
Moyo said Zimbabwe wanted to restore its previously cordial relations with the EU “free from all such historical impediments and baggage,” referring to the key role Zimbabwe’s former colonial master, Britain played in the imposition of the bloc’s sanctions. – New Ziana