DESPITE the new dispensation’s spirited efforts to engage the West, illegal sanctions have been maintained on the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) by the EU.
On Monday February 21 2022, the EU revealed, in a statement, its lifting of restrictive measures on Zimbabwe’s Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, Army Chief Valerio Sibanda and former First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Part of the EU statement reads:
“The EU has reviewed its restrictive measures in respect of Zimbabwe and in this context recalls the Council Conclusions of 17 February 2020 as well as the Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU of 19 February 2021.
[…] The arms embargo and the targeted assets freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, remain in place taking into account the situation in Zimbabwe, as well as the continuing need to investigate the role of security forces in human rights abuses.
The EU will continue to closely follow developments, with a particular attention to the human rights situation, and recalls its readiness to review and adapt the whole range of its policies accordingly.”
The accusations and quest for ‘reassurances’ along other barrages only serve to show that the EU is not dealing with Zimbabwe in good faith.
The EU statement further reads:
“Moreover, the EU welcomes the reassurances given by the authorities of Zimbabwe that they will be inviting international electoral observers for the 2023 elections including an EU Election Observation Mission.”
The EU’s reference to the Government of Zimbabwe as ‘bearing authoritarianism tendencies’ leaves a lot to be desired.
Both from a political and diplomatic angle, the 2018 post-elections violence and January 2019 violent demonstrations have ramifications for the country’s re-engagement initiative.
All other narratives sought are meant to argue nothing has changed in the new dispensation.
In fact, the January 1 violence hardened the West’s resolve to support civil society in their ‘democratisation project’ in Zimbabwe through providing funding and strategies, including using social media.
The West will always find ways to derail progress in Government’s reform agenda as well as tarnish the country’s image.
The EU is a unique political entity with a hybrid government model that makes the organisation half supranational, half inter-governmental.
It is an amalgam of national interests and strategic cultures and cannot always act with a single voice.
These features limit, considerably, the EU’s ability to operate unilaterally.
European strategic autonomy must take on a more practical form in the areas of foreign and security policy, industry and operations.
On another note, the EU imposed severe austerity measures or reduced government debts through drastic cuts in spending along with tax increases; particularly in those countries with the largest debts, the so-called ‘periphery’.
In judging its effectiveness, the question that begs is: Are people better off now than they were four years ago?
Overall unemployment has risen steadily.
Unemployment rates in Spain, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Greece and elsewhere in the region are worse off today than they were four years ago.
A report from the IMF basically apologises for its austerity recommendations in the last few years, backed up with evidence that those countries forced into austerity measures by the EU experienced steep downturns in their economies.
In the same vein, there is no such a thing as targeted sanctions.
Yet EU officials trade on a lie of the infallibility of their theory on how economies work to the extent of being unmoved by such evidence and the human suffering that goes along with it.
The EU lacks democratic accountability, which poses a serious problem for member-states and the system as whole.
Back home, Zimbabwe is having a difficult time in dealing with sanctions because European economists and officials will likely remain steadfast in their belief that their policies have been right all along. But contrary to that belief, it is the resilience of the new dispensation that is seeing the nation through.