HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s potential heirs, vice President Joice Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are off European Union (EU) travel and financial sanctions as the 27 nation bloc eases its tough stance on Harare.
Mujuru and Mnangagwa who are reportedly engaged in a fierce battle to succeed 89-year-old Mugabe, are now free to travel to Europe.
But Mugabe, his wife Grace and service chiefs including army general Constantine Chiwenga and police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri are still stuck with the targeted sanctions which bar them from travelling to Europe and also limits financial transactions in Europe.
Yesterday, EU deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe Carl Skau announced the EU potentially divisive step as Mugabe’s Zanu PF heads towards a showdown poll with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC in the next few months.
“The EU ... has today agreed to immediately suspend the application of measures against 81 individuals and eight entities,” an EU statement said.
While Mujuru is widely seen as a reformist in Zanu PF, it is the removal of Mnangagwa — a hardliner linked to past electoral skirmishes such as the Gukurahundi atrocities of the 1980s — which has riled observers.
But Skau said the 81 individuals including the two Zanu PF faction leaders are not influential decision makers.
“A number of key decision makers will remain subject to restrictive measures until peaceful transparent and credible elections have been achieved,” he said.
Director of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Happyton Bonyongwe, Air Marshal Perence Shiri, army boss Phillip Valerio Sibanda and major general Douglas Nyikayaramba.
War veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda and Zanu PF politiburo member Didymus Mutasa remain subject to the restrictions.
The EU, which trimmed sanctions in February, says the decision to remove the 81 individuals was influenced by the successful holding of a referendum.
However, the block says the recent spate of arrests on human rights defenders and staffers in Tsvangirai’s office are a cause of concern which warrants the continuation of sanctions on Mugabe’s inner cabal.