The European Union has extended its sanctions against Zimbabwe raising concern over the country’s multifaceted and prolonged crisis that it says has deepened further.
The recall of the EU council Conclusions of February 17 last year includes an arms embargo and freezing targeted assets against the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
In a Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union on Friday, the EU expressed concern at the lack of substantial reforms in Zimbabwe saying this has led to continued deterioration of the humanitarian, economic and social situation.
The EU also said violations of human rights and limitations on the democratic space were also persisting in Zimbabwe while expressing concerns over arrests and prosecutions of journalists, opposition actors and individuals expressing dissenting views including “the use by high-level officials of speech that could be interpreted as incitement to violence.”
“The Government of Zimbabwe has committed to adhere fully to its constitutional and international human rights obligations which imply respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, including addressing impunity.
“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.
“In light of its continuing concerns, the EU has reviewed its restrictive measures, recalling their purpose to encourage a demonstrable, genuine and long-term commitment by the Zimbabwean authorities to respect and uphold human rights and the rule of law.
“The EU has decided to renew its arms embargo and to maintain a targeted assets freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, taking into account the situation in Zimbabwe, including the continuing need to investigate the role of security force actors in human rights abuses.”
The Union said it will continue to closely follow developments in Zimbabwe, with a particular attention to the human rights situation, and recalls its readiness to review and adapt the whole range of its policies accordingly.
It, however, argued that he sanctions do not affect the people of Zimbabwe, its economy, foreign direct investment, or trade while government continues to benefit from duty free and quota free access of its exports to the EU.
Negotiations to deepen the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) are also ongoing, the EU said.
“Accelerated political and economic reforms, respect for human rights, boosting trust in the rule of law and tackling corruption would contribute significantly to investor confidence, build a steady business climate and facilitate Zimbabwe in taking full advantage of the opportunities the EPA provides,” the EU said.
The bloc also reiterated its readiness to support credible and sustainable economic and political reforms, based on tangible commitments made by the Government of Zimbabwe.
“The EU regards electoral reform as an important element to strengthen democracy in Zimbabwe and is ready to continue its support in this field in line with the recommendations made by the 2018 EU Electoral Observation Mission.
“The EU will continue to support the people of Zimbabwe, having provided over the last 7 years more than €366 million for the development of the country and €68 million of humanitarian assistance, including dedicated assistance in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Union also said the upcoming Political Dialogue with Zimbabwe would provide an opportunity for exchanging views and deepening mutual understanding as well as looking for constructive cooperation.