Citing “deep concern” at Zimbabwe’s worsening political and economic plight, European Union foreign ministers slapped a travel ban on 52 leading members of the country’s political elite, including President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace. The Zimbabwean leader and 19 of his closest aides including Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge, cabinet secretary Charles Utete and speaker of parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa are already on a list of targeted EU sanctions including travel restrictions agreed in February.
The new EU list covered “all remaining Zimbabwean cabinet ministers, politburo secretaries, deputy ministers, assistant secretaries of the politburo and the spouse of President Mugabe, Grace Mugabe,” EU ministers said in a statement. “We are targeting the whole of Zimbabwe’s ruling elite,” British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told reporters. The new measures would heighten the Zimbabwean government’s “sense of isolation,” he said. The EU did not have a quarrel with the people of Zimbabwe, Straw insisted, but was targeting people responsible for the country’s “man-made disaster,” he underlined.
Ministers said their move was spurred by “deep concerns” over Zimbabwe’s problems, including “social and political polarisation, the impasse in the inter-party dialogue between the ruling Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change, violations of human rights and restrictions on the media.” The country’s rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation was largely the result of the government’s “fast track land reform policy,” EU ministers said.
The decision to slap travel restrictions on more members of Zimbabwe’s political elite follows a British demand that worsening political and social conditions in Zimbabwe demanded tougher EU action against the government. The sanctions also include a decision by the EU to freeze all financial assets of the people banned from travelling to Europe. (638)