EU removes Grace Mugabe, Zimbabwe's vice-president and army commander from sanctions list

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The EU has lifted sanctions on Grace Mugabe.
The EU has lifted sanctions on Grace Mugabe.
Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fashion 4 Development
  • Grace Mugabe, Zimbabwe's second in command and an army boss have been removed from the European Union's sanctions list.
  • Zanu-PF claims it's a diplomatic victory for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
  • The EU has noted with concern the failure of Zimbabwe to improve its democracy and human rights records.


The European Union (EU) has removed already suspended targeted sanctions on the last three Zimbabwean public officials and politicians on the list.

They are Zimbabwe's vice-president Constantino Chiwenga, who led the military coup that dislodged the late Robert Mugabe; Mugabe's widow, Grace; and current army boss General Valerio Sibanda.

Chiwenga and Sibanda's sanctions were suspended in 2014, and the suspension of sanctions against Grace Mugabe came six years later, in 2020 - a year after the death of her husband.

READ | Grace Mugabe challenges Zimbabwe court order to exhume husband's body

They had been on the sanctions list since 2002 on grounds of political violence, human rights abuses, and the failure to hold free and fair elections. Initially, in 2002, the sanctions list had almost 200 people and some 30 firms and state utilities on it. Only one firm, arms manufacturing and procurement company Zimbabwe Defence Industries, remains on the list with its assets frozen.

In a statement, the EU said that it "reiterates its ambition for a more constructive relationship with Zimbabwe at all levels".

In response, Zanu-PF "noted the progressive decision" but called for the "unconditional removal of all sanctions". It said it was a diplomatic victory for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

However, the EU raised concerns about Zimbabwe's human rights and democracy records.

The EU said:

The situation in terms of respect for human rights has not improved in Zimbabwe. Intimidation of the political opposition and other government critics has continued to the democratic and civic space.

On Sunday, the main political parties in Zimbabwe, the ruling Zanu-PF and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), formerly the MDC Alliance of Nelson Chamisa, held rallies in preparation for by-elections in March.

But the CCC's rally, unlike the Zanu-PF one, didn't get coverage on the state-controlled broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

Also, at least more than 100 CCC supporters were arrested for holding "car rallies" or conducting door-to-door campaigns.

The EU said it would continue to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe.

"The EU will continue to closely follow developments, with particular attention to the human rights situation, and recalls its readiness to review and adapt the whole range of its policies accordingly," the EU statement read.

As part of its campaign, Zanu-PF claims the sanctions by the EU as well as the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, a law enacted by the United States to support its embargo on Zimbabwe, affects ordinary Zimbabweans. Like the US, the EU said that was not true.

"The measures in place are targeted and very limited, therefore they do not affect the people of Zimbabwe, its economy, foreign direct investments, or trade," the EU said.

President Mnangagwa attended the EU-African Union Summit in Brussels, Belgium last week.

Upon his return, he said the re-engagement drive with the EU was hopeful.


The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.


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