Noting an improvement in Zimbabwe’s political situation since the signing of a power-sharing agreement in 2008, the European Union last week eased its targeted sanctions against the country’s leadership even as it encouraged further political reforms.
With the goal of pushing further progress toward fair and peaceful elections, the EU removed visa bans and asset freezes on 51 individuals and 20 companies with links to the ruling party, ZANU-PF. But it kept an arms embargo in place, extended a freeze on aid for another six months and kept more than 100 party officials, as well as Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, on the sanctions list.
According to Adrienne LeBas, an assistant professor and Zimbabwe expert in the department of government at American University, the sanctions against Zimbabwe -- first imposed by most Western donors in 2001 and by the EU in 2002 -- were fatally flawed from the start. LeBas lived in Zimbabwe from 2002 to 2004 and saw firsthand how ZANU-PF leaders used the sanctions as part of the party’s propaganda machine.