The European Union’s decision to renew sanctions against Zimbabwe was another demonstration that the international community is increasingly getting frustrated with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government’s reluctance to reform.
In 2017, European countries were some of the key allies that embraced Mnangagwa after the coup that toppled Robert Mugabe and were prepared to give him a chance despite the way he assumed power.
The world had gone grown tired of Mugabe’s despotic rule and Western countries were eager to see a leader that would extricate Zimbabwe from years of economic quagmire.
Mnangagwa was saying the right words, including promising a “new and unfolding democracy.”
The opposite, however, is true of the Zanu PF’s leader’s stewardship of the country since the coup.
Summing up the international community’s frustrations with the leadership in Harare, the EU expressed “concern that Zimbabwe’s multifaceted and prolonged crisis has further deepened.”
It noted that: “The lack of substantial reforms has allowed the continued deterioration of the humanitarian, economic and social situation.
“Violations of human rights and limitations on the democratic space are also persisting.
“The EU is especially concerned about a proliferation of arrests and prosecutions of journalists, opposition actors and individuals expressing dissenting views, and the use by high-level officials of speech that could be interpreted as incitement to violence.”
We carry elsewhere in full the EU’s statement, which succinctly explains why Zimbabwe remains isolated internationally even after Mugabe’s ouster.
Only last month, one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the military putsch, introduced its own set of targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe after its departure from the UK on December 31, 2020.
The UK also slapped State Security minister Owen Ncube, Zimbabwe Republic Police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga, Central Intelligence Organisation director Isaac Moyo and Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania Anselem Senyatwe with travel bans and asset freezes.
As expected government mandarins are dismissive of these restrictive measures, which they believe aid their propaganda that they are being unfairly targeted.
A progressive government will use the opportunity to evaluate its performance and ensure that it is delivering on its promise.
It is Mnangagwa himself who promised the international community that he will stop the Mugabe era human rights violations, the stifling of freedom of speech and ruinous economic policies.
He practically developed the score card he is being judged on. The EU and UK sanctions are an indicator that his performance has been dismally.
It will indeed require a radical shift from Mnangagwa’s government for Zimbabwe to rid itself of the pariah status and the signs coming out of Western capitals are not promising.