Friday, 30 October 2020

UK MULLS MORE SANCTIONS ON ED GOVT

THE failed attempt to smuggle 6kg of gold to Dubai by Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya was this week discussed in the British House of Lords, with indications the British government could impose more sanctions on Zimbabwe if corruption and human rights abuses do not end.

On Monday Rushwaya was intercepted with gold bars in her handbag worth US$333 000 and failed to produce the paperwork authorising the export of the gold.

It has emerged the smuggling attempt involved a whole syndicate of individuals, including businesspeople, two officers in the Central Intelligence Organisation and two senior police officers. Six people have since been arrested and are assisting police with investigations.

British peer Anthony St John raised the issue of Rushwaya, asking how the British government would respond to the unbridled corruption as manifested by the former Zimbabwe Football Association of Zimbabwe chief executive officer escapade.

“Is the minister aware that President Mnangagwa’s niece was arrested in Harare yesterday (Monday) for attempting to smuggle 6kg of gold to Dubai?” he asked Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development Elizabeth Sugg.

He asked what measures the British government and the European Union could take to ensure the independence of the judiciary in Zimbabwe, and what measures could be taken to encourage the South African government to use their political and economic leverage with Zimbabwe to help resolve the crisis?

Sugg expressed ignorance over the smuggling issue, but pointed out that the British government was “working closely with our partners in the EU to try to avoid corruption” and would continue to do so with the African Union and South Africa to try to reduce corruption in Zimbabwe.

Other legislators, including Zimbabwean-born Labour Party politician Peter Hain, asked what specific steps the British government was taking to sanction those responsible for brutality on civilians in Zimbabwe.

Sugg said Number 10 Downing Street was seriously considering imposing more sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The British government, she said, would soon impose more punitive sanctions on Zimbabwe should gross human rights violations and corruption persist.

Despite having promised a clean break from the old regime of his late predecessor Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa has continued on the same repressive path which saw London, along with other Western powers, imposing sanctions on Harare at the turn of the millennium.

Although the British government initially warmed up to Mnangagwa, promising to pour in millions of pounds in both aid and investment, it now appears to have been repulsed by Harare’s wanton disregard for human rights as evidenced by frequent brutal clampdown on opposition politicians and the civil society.

“My Lords, what specific steps have the Government taken to sanction those responsible, including government ministers, for massive human rights violations in Zimbabwe, such as the abduction and torture of Joana Mamombe and her colleagues in June? She continues to be viciously harassed through the criminal justice system, and police brutality is continuing with impunity: for example, throwing teargas into a crowded bus on 12 October,” Hain asked.

Sugg responded: “The UK remains aligned to the EU’s restrictive measures on Zimbabwe. Suspended targeted measures are in place against three current and former security sector chiefs, and (former first lady) Grace Mugabe.”

“The sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2018 now provides the legal basis for the UK to impose autonomous sanctions and we are in the process of considering our approach to the future sanctions regime in Zimbabwe.”The House of Lords discussion interestingly comes just after the country, supported by the Sadc regional bloc, commemorated the first anniversary of the Anti-Sanctions Day on Sunday.

October 25 was set aside by Sadc countries in Tanzania last year as the day to lobby for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe. The sanctions were placed by the United States in 2001 over human rights abuses. The European Union also placed the country under sanctions but these have been significantly relaxed.

Sugg said London would continue to work “alongside the international community to help support good governance, respect for human rights and genuine political and economic reform in Zimbabwe”.

She said the British government noted the signing of a recent US$3,5 billion compensation deal between the Zimbabwean government and farmers for improvements to land but remained concerned that the agreement was not underpinned by the finance necessary to deliver the agreement.

“Officials at the British embassy in Harare speak regularly with a full range of stakeholders, who are interested in reaching an agreement on compensation,” Sugg said.

She said the British government has been clear that a lack of meaningful economic and political reform, as well as the ongoing human rights violations, mean that the Government of Zimbabwe is far from achieving the level of reform the British need to see.

“We will work closely with like-minded partners to continue to raise concerns, press for respect of the constitution and see the sustained implementation of the reforms that have been committed to,” Sugg said.

Sugg said Number 10 Downing Street was seriously considering imposing more sanctions on Zimbabwe. The British government, she said, would soon impose more punitive sanctions on Zimbabwe should gross human rights violations and corruption persist.

Despite having promised a clean break from the old regime of his late predecessor Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa has continued on the same repressive path which saw London, along with other Western powers, imposing sanctions on Harare at the turn of the millennium.

Although the British government initially warmed up to Mnangagwa, promising to pour in millions of pounds in both aid and investment, it now appears to have been repulsed by Harare’s wanton disregard for human rights as evidenced by frequent brutal clampdown on opposition politicians and the civil society.

“My Lords, what specific steps have the Government taken to sanction those responsible, including government ministers, for massive human rights violations in Zimbabwe, such as the abduction and torture of Joana Mamombe and her colleagues in June? She continues to be viciously harassed through the criminal justice system, and police brutality is continuing with impunity: for example, throwing teargas into a crowded bus on 12 October,” Hain asked.

 

Sugg responded: “The UK remains aligned to the EU’s restrictive measures on Zimbabwe. Suspended targeted measures are in place against three current and former security sector chiefs, and (former first lady) Grace Mugabe.”

“The sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2018 now provides the legal basis for the UK to impose autonomous sanctions and we are in the process of considering our approach to the future sanctions regime in Zimbabwe.”

The House of Lords discussion interestingly comes just after the country, supported by the Sadc regional bloc, commemorated the first anniversary of the Anti-Sanctions Day on Sunday.

October 25 was set aside by Sadc countries in Tanzania last year as the day to lobby for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe. The sanctions were placed by the United States in 2001 over human rights abuses. The European Union also placed the country under sanctions but these have been significantly relaxed.

Sugg said London would continue to work “alongside the international community to help support good governance, respect for human rights and genuine political and economic reform in Zimbabwe”.

She said the British government noted the signing of a recent US$3,5 billion compensation deal between the Zimbabwean government and farmers for improvements to land but remained concerned that the agreement was not underpinned by the finance necessary to deliver the agreement.

“Officials at the British embassy in Harare speak regularly with a full range of stakeholders, who are interested in reaching an agreement on compensation,” Sugg said.

She said the British government has been clear that a lack of meaningful economic and political reform, as well as the ongoing human rights violations, mean that the Government of Zimbabwe is far from achieving the level of reform the British need to see.

“We will work closely with like-minded partners to continue to raise concerns, press for respect of the constitution and see the sustained implementation of the reforms that have been committed to,” Sugg said.

In response, Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo said the Zimbabwe government was rather surprised at the level of “invasive interest” in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs by the British. Zimbabwe Independent

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