The EU has kept arms and visa bans and asset freezes on Mugabe and his allies since 2004 in a bid to force democratic change in the country. EU states had discussed lifting those bans following the creation last year of a national unity government.
Despite that breakthrough, EU states concluded ‘there has not yet been sufficient progress’ on political reforms to warrant dropping the bans, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said in a statement coordinated with all 27 EU members.
The EU decided to extend by a year a visa ban and asset freeze for a list of named individuals and businesses, an arms embargo and other measures, the statement read.
The visa ban and asset freeze originally targeted 198 top regime officials and 31 businesses seen as channelling funds to Mugabe and his supporters.
In a sign of the tentative improvement in conditions in Zimbabwe, EU states agreed to strike 35 people from that list.
‘The remaining 163 people and 31 businesses are still considered to be linked to human rights abuses, the undermining of democracy or the abuse of the rule of law,’ the statement read.
Those that have received the EU sanctions relief also had a freeze on their assets lifted.
Emilio Rosetti, the first secretary of the EU delegation to Zimbabwe, announced the development in Harare on Tuesday and said names of those delisted would be released on Wednesday.
However, diplomatic sources revealed President Mugabe’s sister, Sabina, Assistant Commissioner Thomsen Jangara, former Mashonaland Central governor Ephraim Masawi and Thenjiwe Lesabe, all of whom are deceased, had been removed from the list.
Also off the sanctions list are spouses of several Zanu PF and security chiefs, among them Willia Bonyongwe, chairperson of the Securities Commission and wife of the Central Intelligence Organisation director-general, Happyton Bonyongwe, Anne Flora Chairuka, who is married to the Commander of the Zimbabwe Prison Service, Paradzai Zimondi and Rudo Grace Charamba, wife of Presidential spokesman George Charamba.
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri’s wife, Isobel Halima, is also now free to travel to Europe and so is Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono’s wife, Helen.
Tsitsi Chihuri, wife of Minister of State Security in the President’s office Sydney Sekeramayi, Choice Parirenyatwa, former Health minister David Parirenyatwa’s wife, and Patricia Made, Agriculture minister Joseph Made’s spouse, have also been removed from the list.
Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president Fortune Charumbira, former Deputy Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Abigail Damasane, Peter Chingoka, the president of Zimbabwe Cricket, Lazarus Dokora the Deputy Minister of Education, Victoria Chitepo, a politburo member, Samuel Undenge the Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Development are all off the sanctions list.
Former Attorney General Sobusa Gula Ndebele, former Mashonaland East governor Ray Kaukonde, Zanu PF politburo member Kumbirai Kangai, Aguy Georgias, the Deputy Minister of Public Works, Theophilus Gambe, the chairperson of the Electoral Supervisory Commission, former Finance and Economic Development minister Chris Kuruneri have also benefited.
Deputy Senate president Naison Ndlovu, Zanu PF politburo members Joshua Malinga, Richard Ndlovu, George Nyathi, Khantibhal Patel, Selina Pote, Zvishavane Ngezi MP Obert Matshalaga, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Tracey Mutinhiri, Melusi Matshiya, the secretary for Home Affairs, and Timothy Stamps, health advisor to the President, are also free.