• EU Sanctions Move Illogical
NOW DAILY EDITORIAL
It is hard to understand why the European Union has suddenly found it fit to honour Zimbabwe’s military generals by removing sanctions imposed on them when they went on a rampage, killing, maiming and looting on behalf of the cruel dictator Robert Mugabe.
Those crimes, including the army-ordered murder of up to 2 500 civilians in the aftermath of Mugabe’s 2008 electoral defeat by Morgan Tsvangirai, have not been punished.
The generals and officials upon whom sanctions have been lifted by the EU are:
• General Constantine Chiwenga, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, who openly threatened a coup if the 90-year-old dictator lost the last election held on July 31, 2013;
• Lt-General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, considered a moderate;
• Air Marshall Perrence Shiri, Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe and former head of the crack North Korean-trained 5th Brigade, which murdered a known 20 000 civilians and caused the disappearance of 50 000 others in Matabeleland and Midlands Provinces in an attempt to cleanse the Ndebele tribe;
• Brigadier-General Happyton Bonyongwe, Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation, notorious for murders, disappearances and other nefarious plots against the opposition to Zanu PF. Was in charge of the $100 million Operations Blackhawk and Spiderweb to destroy MDC and ensure Mugabe successfully rigged the 2013 election.
• Augustine Chihuri, Commissioner-General of Police who has ordered the beating, torture, unwarranted arrest and lengthy incarceration of Mugabe’s political rivals and has declared that the despot would not leave office even if he lost elections. The police played a significant role in rigging the last elections, with serving officers participating as candidates, in violation of the law but with encouragement from Chihuri.
• Didymus Mutasa, a minister in Mugabe’s office and de facto head of State Security. Mutasa, a close Mugabe henchman and architect of violence, was responsible for the widely-publicized arson murder of a child, Christpowers Maisiri, the son of his rival for MP in Headlands in the last election. The callous murder and Mutasa’s cynical response so shocked the world that it was discussed by Cabinet.
The generals who have inconceivably been reprieved by the EU are known killers with whom no ordinary European would like to get close to. Murderous Zanu PF militias under their control, trained and funded within military structures, are still on the loose throughout the country causing terror, intimidation and humiliation.
Typically, the 28-member EU’s decision will not be explained. It will be given to the public in dribs and drabs, covered in diplomatic gobbledegook and the usual arrogance which nobody will ever understand.
Yet the EU “principles” that triggered the sanctions against Mugabe and his cabal were pretty simple. Mugabe, the EU told the world in 2002, should stop human rights abuses and violations of democracy, characterized by a violently rigged presidential election, murder of opponents and racially-inspired seizure of white-owned farms.
Following an outcry by the public in Europe, Mugabe and his entourage were banned from entering the EU or owning assets there.
The sanctions had a significant impact on the Mugabe regime’s subsequent behavior. Short of development aid, cut off from capital markets and abandoned by the cream of its professional workforce, the Zimbabwean economy collapsed, forcing Mugabe to agree to reforms and a power-sharing government with the MDC in 2008.
There is no logical explanation for the EU’s decision to suddenly let loose in Europe known international criminals, who oversaw the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina, described by the United Nations as a Crime Against Humanity, in which millions had their homes and businesses destroyed by Mugabe’s regime. These are unreformed thugs who will not tolerate or understand the soft “olive branch” approach of diplomats and theorists writing their scenarios from standard manuals in Brussels. The response from Zanu PF has been telling. The party’s spokesmen have lambasted the EU gesture, saying it is an insult to pardon a few and leave Mugabe and his shopaholic wife Grace on the banned list.
In the absence of a logical explanation, it is easy to speculate. After all, human rights and democracy seem to have been abandoned in the quest for the Marange diamonds, which Mugabe’s military generals control through opaque inter-linkages with the Chinese Red Army. Some would argue that lifting sanctions on the generals would allow them to dispose of the quality gems they are hiding, in Europe instead of Dubai and Hong Kong, where they have been off-loading quality diamonds for a song so far.
Ironically, the EU announcement comes while Zimbabwe’s second auction of the disputed Marange diamonds is ongoing in Antwerp, Belgium.
Others have said it’s a blatant attempt to trigger a coup. Is this part of an exit package for the generals, considering Mugabe’s advanced age and the inevitable chaos that would follow his demise if the criminal generals have no escape plan and the masses are baying for their blood.
Or, perhaps just another naive act by European politicians who understand the dangers of negotiating and giving concessions to terrorists but cannot extend the same logic to equally murderous dictators.
For Mugabe’s party, the removal of the sanctions before any reforms or prosecutions have taken place reinforces their false argument that they are victims of a neo-colonial plot. In April, Mugabe and his entourage will take part in the EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, giving them the limelight and another perfect opportunity to attack the West and deny the charges of continuing abuses and corruption in Zimbabwe. Grace, of course, will spend more of our tax dollars shopping for shoes and hats.
• EU Sanctions Move Illogical