ASSETS worth 825 000 euros ($800 million at the official exchange rate) have so far been seized from government and Zanu PF officials by the European Union as part of target
ed sanctions against Zimbabwe’s political leaders.
The assets are worth about $6,1 billion on the parallel market rate of 1 euro: $7 500.
The EU imposed sanctions on President Mugabe and his close associates just before the March 2002 presidential election after it accused Mugabe’s regime of human rights violations.
The European Union has also imposed a travel ban on government ministers and senior officials. The ban has been extended to cover senior Zanu PF officials and first lady Grace Mugabe. MEPs would like the sanctions regime extended to cover spouses of government ministers, as in the case of United States travel restrictions.
Several civic groups have since the assets freeze been petitioning the EU on the quantum of the assets which have been frozen to date. The inquiry into the amount of assets seized is meant to gauge the effectiveness of the sanctions. Western diplomats this week said there was a good possibility that senior politicians were able to move their monies to banks in the Far East before the net closed in on them.
A letter from the EU Committee of Petitions to a South African-based pressure group clarified the issue of the assets freeze.
“The total sum of the 825 000 Euro had been reported by members states as the amount of assets frozen belonging to members of the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe,” said Committee of Petitions chairman Nino Gemelli. Gemelli said five members of the EU had not reported to the committee.
This he said had no impact on the final figures as the countries concerned did not have anything to report.
The correspondence did not however disclose where the assets had been seized.
At the time when government announced the assets-freeze last year President Mugabe said there were no assets to freeze. He said if any were found the EU could donate them to charity.
Observers have said the seizure of the assets was a bold statement that the European Union was serious about sanctions.