via EU criticised over ‘rushed’ lifting of ZMDC targeted sanctions | SW Radio Africa by Alex Bell on Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The European Union (EU) is facing criticism for its decision to start lifting targeted restrictive sanctions in place against the state run Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corporation (ZMDC), despite the disputed nature of the July polls.
This decision was announced on Tuesday by EU foreign affairs spokesman Michael Mann, who said that EU diplomats had concluded there was no indication that the ZMDC’s activities were linked to violence during Zimbabwe’s July election period.
But he said the EU remained very concerned about reports from some election observers which raised “serious questions about the fairness and credibility of the process”.
According to the London based pressure group Global Witness, the EU’s decision to delist the ZMDC is “rushed”. Senior campaigner Emily Armistead told SW Radio Africa:
“We don’t believe that the EU has taken proper account of much of the evidence that suggesta that a, the election was rigged, and b, that diamond revenue may have helped fund the manipulation of the vote,” Armistead explained.
She explained that Global Witness research has indicated that ZANU PF and the military have siphoned revenues from diamond ventures the ZMDC is involved in, in the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields. Last year, the campaign group published detailed evidence indicating that revenues from ZMDC firms were providing ‘off-budget financing’ to the security forces.
“There are credible indications that at least one ZMDC joint venture company helped fund ZANU PF activities which have undermined the democratic process in Zimbabwe. The EU should have given more time to investigating these claims before lifting sanctions,” Armistead said.
The EU decision meanwhile has coincided with threats by Robert Mugabe to ‘punish’ the ZMDC leadership, accused of massive corruption. Speaking at a dinner on Tuesday night, after the official opening of Parliament, Mugabe accused the ZMDC officials, led by Goodwills Masimirembwa, of defrauding potential Ghanaian investors of an estimated US$6 million.
“They asked the Ghanaians to transfer US$6 million for the deal and then asked for another amount, which did not come through the formal transaction but as cash and that amount is still unaccounted for. And this is being done by our people. Such naked corruption cannot go unpunished,” said Mugabe.
Observes have Mugabe’s sudden vow to clampdown of corruption in the ZMDC is not coincidental, and it was likely that some kind of ‘sacrifice’ was necessary to secure the lifting of the EU measures on the Corporation.
Political analyst Clifford Mashiri agreed that the revelations by Mugabe appeared “manufactured,” adding that the EU decision is “very disappointing.”
“The reengagement is a very sad thing. They are reengaging with a regime that has not reformed… and the EU is saying ‘all is ok’,” Mashiri said.