BULAWAYO – The European Union has extended sanctions on Zimbabwe by another year after expressing concerns over the slow pace of reforms.
Sanctions first imposed in 2002 previously targeted individuals accused of undermining the rule of law and right abuses, but were revised last year and now remain in the form of an arms embargo and asset freeze against the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
In a February 28 statement, EU said it “reiterates its ambition to continue developing a more constructive relationship with Zimbabwe” but voiced concerns “from a democratic and civic space perspective.”
It added: “These include the Data Protection Act and, if enacted, bills such as the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill and the envisaged ‘patriotic provisions’ in the Criminal Law Amendment Bill.
“The EU also maintains its concerns that the recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry have not been followed substantially and the perpetrators of violations which occurred in August 2018 and January 2019 are to date still enjoying impunity from prosecution.
“It is important that international human rights obligations are adhered to and the constitutional rights of the people of Zimbabwe respected. In view of all the above, in its 2023 revision of the restrictive measures, the EU has decided to extend by one year the two measures in place, i.e. the arms embargo and targeted assets freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries.”
The EU said it would “continue to closely follow developments, with a particular attention to the human rights situation and recalls its readiness to adapt the whole range of its policies accordingly.”
It welcomed an invitation by Zimbabwe to observe elections expected in August and encouraged “all electoral stakeholders, state and non-state alike, to play their role in ensuring the organisation of a credible and peaceful electoral process.”
“There is significant potential in terms of investments and job opportunities, provided that the government promotes political and economic reforms, facilitate a conducive and more predictable business environment, tackle corruption and foster respect for human rights and the rule of law,” the EU said.