The EU Should Follow the US Example and Place Sanctions Against Zimbabwe’s Leadership and Elites 

Source: The EU Should Follow the US Example and Place Sanctions Against Zimbabwe’s Leadership and Elites –


In recent developments, the United States has shifted its focus from Zimbabwean companies and taken a firm stance against the current leadership and elites in Zimbabwe.

The US has removed general sanctions and instead imposing targeted sanctions on key figures, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa (above left), and presidential advisor Kudakwashe Tagwirei (above right).

These sanctions are a response to ongoing corruption and human rights abuses under Mnangagwa’s administration.

The US is not alone in their sanctions against Zimbabwe, with the European Union having maintained a series of restrictive measures against Zimbabwe since the early 2000s, primarily focusing on an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

These measures have been periodically reviewed and renewed, most recently in February 2024, reflecting the EU’s continued concern over the political and human rights situation in the country.

Despite these efforts, the EU’s sanctions have faced criticism for being limited in scope and effectiveness.

The European Union should consider broadening its sanctions to include individuals like Kudakwashe Tagwirei, who was accused in 2023 of transferring questionable funds from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to London through intermediaries, fake invoices, and offshore financial schemes in 2019.

Currently, the EU’s measures have primarily targeted lower-profile individuals and entities, failing to apply significant pressure on high-ranking elites such as Kudakwashe Tagwirei.

Targeted sanctions are designed to freeze assets and restrict movement, significantly hindering the ability of these individuals to operate internationally.

The nature of these sanctions ensures that the economic and diplomatic impact is felt primarily by those responsible for the country’s dire situation, rather than the general population.

By focusing on key leaders, the US sanctions aim to hold the Zimbabwean leadership accountable for their actions. This approach has been lauded for its precision and potential to catalyse political change without exacerbating the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.

If the EU were to adopt a similar strategy, it could strengthen the international coalition against human rights abuses and corruption in Zimbabwe.

By aligning its policies with the US, the EU would send a strong, unified message to the Zimbabwean government that the international community will not tolerate their misconduct.

This increased pressure could potentially force the Zimbabwean leadership to reconsider their policies and engage in meaningful reforms.

Moreover, targeted EU sanctions would provide moral support to the opposition and civil society groups within Zimbabwe, who are striving for democratic governance and respect for human rights. These groups often face severe repression, and stronger international backing could bolster their resilience and efforts towards positive change.

As members of the international community, the EU has a responsibility to combat human rights abuses and corruption.

As the situation continues to evolve, it is crucial for the EU to review and strengthen its sanctions policy to ensure it effectively addresses the ongoing challenges in Zimbabwe.