IN-Brief: "No position" on EU restrictions on Zimbabwe

JOHANNESBURG, 30 September 2010 (IRIN)

  • The European Union (EU) said it had "noted positive developments" in Zimbabwe as the deadline for a decision on targeted restrictions against the troubled Southern African country approaches.

South Africa raised the issue with EU President Herman van Rompuy at a bilateral meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on 28 September, van Rompuy's spokesman, Jes=FAs Carmona, told IRIN. "But there is no position on it [for or against the restrictions] - the matter will come up for review in February 2011, and then we will examine the situation."

The EU also noted in a communiqué that there were "some important challenges" in the Global Political Agreement between the political parties - ZANU-PF led by President Robert Mugabe, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and a breakaway group of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara - signed in September 2008.

The sanctions were first imposed on 18 February 2002 and reinstated in February 2010 after the EU noted a "lack of progress" in the implementation of the agreement.

The restrictions include travel bans and the freezing of bank accounts, which affect more than 200 targeted individuals and 40-odd companies linked to Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF.

There is also a ban on the sale of arms to Zimbabwe, and in a February 2010 addition, the EU suspended development cooperation with the country for a further year. However, the EU has provided funding for various projects aimed at improving governance during that time, and has maintained that the sanctions were not aimed at the people of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe and ZANU-PF have argued that Zimbabwe's dire economic situation, near collapse of social services, and prolonged food insecurity are the consequence of these sanctions.