Sunday

27th Nov 2022

Zimbabwean officials free to travel to EU

  • Mugabe's men murdered up to 200 people in 2008 (Photo: The Mint Julep)

Seventeen men and women directly accused of murder, torture, rape or kidnapping in Zimbabwe have been given the green light to travel to the EU.

The names feature on a list of 81 people and eight companies taken off the EU's Zimbabwe sanctions list on Thursday (28 March) as a reward for the country's "peaceful and credible" constitutional referendum two weeks ago.

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The move was announced earlier in the week, but entered into force when the decision and the names of those it covers were published in the bloc's Official Journal.

Dozens of the other de-listed people are said to be guilty of "involvement" in President Robert Mugabe's "campaign of terror" against the MDC opposition party during elections in 2008.

According to the US-based NGO Human Rights Watch, Mugabe's men murdered up to 200 people, beat and tortured 500 more and forced 36,000 others from their homes.

But the group-of-17 is special because EU diplomats on the ground got information about their direct involvement in crimes.

The roll-call includes Phineas Chihota, who is accused in the original EU sanctions decision of being "associated with abduction and torture."

It counts Mike Karakadzai ("abductions"), Jawet Kazangarare ("involved in murdering Tapiwa Mubwanda, MDC electoral agent"), Musarashana Mabunda ("beatings, torture"), Innocent Matibiri ("murder of a farm labourer"), Joel Matiza (orchestrated the killings of two men), Brighton Matonga (led a group which murdered a woman), Cairo Mhandu (led a group which killed two men).

It also includes Sibusio Moyo ("murder of MDC supporters"), Olivia Muchena ("linked to politically motivated murders"), Ambros Mutinhiri (set up torture camps), Magadzire Nyahongo ("involved in politically motivated murder"), Victor Rungani ("abductions"), Tendai Savanhu ("abductions of MDC women"), Chris Sibanda (organised torture camps), David Sigauke ("torture against civilians in the diamond fields") and Nathaniel Tarumbwa ("in charge of [a] torture base").

The EU in February already delisted 21 people, several of whom had similar profiles, as a teaser for Mugabe.

The President himself, his wife Grace, and eight other henchmen, including his head of intelligence, Happyton Bonyongwe, and three military chiefs are still personae non grata.

Mugabe's diamond mining company, the ZMDC, and Zimbabwe Defence Industries also remain banned from doing business with EU companies.

But the EU is to review Thursday's decision every three months from now, with diplomats saying that if general elections go well in July the arch-villain himself and his diamond firm will get off too.

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We are aware that the normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and the EU will take time. No-one can expect immediate miracles from what is only the beginning of the first ministerial level dialogue for 20 years, writes Zimbabwe's foreign minister.

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