HARARE – The European Union on Friday renewed its arms embargo on Zimbabwe and an assets freeze on the State-owned Zimbabwe Defense Industries citing a lack of substantial political reforms and continued human rights violations by the government.
The 27-nation member bloc said it was also concerned about “a proliferation of arrests and prosecutions of journalists, opposition actors and individuals expressing dissenting views.”
“The EU notes with concern that Zimbabwe’s multifaceted and prolonged crisis has further deepened,” the Council of the European Union said in a sanctions review statement.
“The lack of substantial reforms has allowed the continued deterioration of the humanitarian, economic and social situation. Violations of human rights and limitations on the democratic space are also persisting.
“The EU is especially concerned about a proliferation of arrests and prosecutions of journalists, opposition actors and individuals expressing dissenting views, and the use by high-level officials of speech that could be interpreted as incitement to violence,” the statement added.
Punitive measures targeting Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Philip Valerio Sibanda, and former First Lady Grace Mugabe will remain suspended, the EU said.
Vowing its “readiness to support credible and sustainable economic and political reforms” plus “ambition for a more constructive relationship” with Zimbabwe, the European bloc called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to prosecute state actors who are known to have violated human rights or are continuing to do so.
“Perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses should swiftly be brought to justice and the recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry should be implemented as a matter of priority and urgency,” urged the EU.
The Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry was constituted to probe the August 1 shootings that killed six people after soldiers opened fire on demonstrators who were demanding results of the disputed July 2018 election won by Mnangagwa.
His main challenger Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance contends the election was stolen from him and that Mnangagwa is illegitimate.
The EU imposed sanctions on more than 100 Zanu PF and government officials as well as entities linked to the ruling party in 2002, accusing them of gross human rights violations.
But it has eased the measures over the years noting some progress, only maintaining the state arms company on its list “taking into account… the continuing need to investigate the role of security force actors in human rights abuses.”
There was no immediate comment from government.