HARARE – Britain is ready to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe when it leaves the European Union.
In readiness for its exit from the EU, which now appears to have been pushed back until October, Britain has published the Zimbabwe (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 which will define its new foreign policy on Zimbabwe.
The EU, with former colonial power Britain in the lead, has maintained sanctions on Zimbabwe since 2002 – comprising individual sanctions, trade restrictions on certain entities and an arms embargo.
The list of those subject to travel restrictions has come down from a high of over 200 names to two individuals – former President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, as well as the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
Suspended sanctions against Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda and Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri were also maintained in February.
On its website, the British government says “the Zimbabwe (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 are intended to ensure that certain sanctions measures relating to Zimbabwe, which are currently in force in the UK under EU legislation and related UK regulations, continue to operate effectively after the UK leaves the EU.”
It adds: “When these regulations come into force they will replace, with substantially the same effect, relevant existing EU legislation and related UK regulations.”
An explanatory note accompanying the regulations published at the end of March says: “These Regulations are made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (c.13) to establish a sanctions regime in relation to Zimbabwe for the purposes of encouraging the government of Zimbabwe to: respect democratic principles and institutions and the rule of law; refrain from the repression of civil society; comply with international human rights law and to respect human rights.
“Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, these Regulations replace the EU sanctions regime in relation Zimbabwe currently in force under an EU Council Decision and Regulation. The Regulations confer a power on the Secretary of State to designate persons who are, or have been, involved in certain activities. Designated persons may be excluded from the United Kingdom and may be made subject to financial sanctions, including having their funds and/or economic resources frozen.
“These Regulations also impose trade restrictions on specified goods and technology, including those which may be used to repress the civilian population of Zimbabwe.”
Britain initially warmed up to Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa after he and his lieutenants staged a military coup which ousted former President Robert Mugabe. But a disputed election win for Mnangagwa last August, followed by a brutal army crackdown which left six people dead on the streets of Harare once again saw Britain pushing for tougher measures on senior Zimbabwean officials.
In January, the military was deployed in the streets again to crush protests over shock fuel price increases, this time leading to the death of at least 18 people with over a 1,000 people arrested, according to rights groups.
Mnangagwa and his ministers say the sanctions are “illegal”, and blame them for their failure to turn around Zimbabwe’s economy claiming they are spooking potential investors and blocking access to loans.