THE European Union and the MDC-T are facing a critical moment in the next few weeks when they consider the issue of targeted Western sanctions against President Robert Mugabe, Zanu PF officials and companies linked to the party.
The emotive sanctions issue has become a contentious matter in Harare and in Western capitals as Mugabe and his cronies step up their campaign to be removed from the restrictive measures which have left them squirming in isolation.
Although Mugabe and his officials initially claimed the sanctions were useless and ineffective, they now say the measures sabotaged the economy.
The sanctions debate is causing ructions among major stakeholders, including the EU, United States, Zanu PF and the MDC-T.
Sources in the MDC-T said the party was not resolute on the sanctions issue despite a strong lobby emerging in the party imploring the West to lift sanctions on business entities which were added to the sanctions list in the last two years.
A group in the party does not however oppose the continuance of sanctions against President Robert Mugabe, his lieutenants and companies they operate. Another group in the party wants the sanctions to remain on the grounds that they are the only lever to ensure reform in Zanu PF.
The differences come ahead of an EU summit next month which is expected to review the sanctions list. The US has also been making enquiries to update its list which now contains several deceased government officials.
Diplomatic sources this week said the US was planning to place more individuals on the list, mainly new permanent secretaries and other government officials who were promoted to their positions last year.
This week the Zanu PF politburo announced that it would not make concessions in the talks with the MDC unless sanctions were lifted.
The sources said Tendai Biti, who is in the US to lobby the International Monetary Fund to restore Zimbabwe’s voting rights, was expected to plead on the sidelines for Washington to lift the sanctions on companies which were placed on the list last year.
The sources said Biti believed that the lifting of sanctions on the companies was critical to his grand project of economic revival. However, there is strong opposition to this plan by MDC officials who feel that there should not be a revision of the sanctions regime. The officials instead want the sanctions tightened.
“The feeling is that such a move (lifting sanctions on companies) would be seen by Zanu PF as relenting,” an MDC official said.
The companies which Biti wants removed from the sanctions list include ZB Bank, Agribank, Infrastructure Bank of Zimbabwe, Zimre Holdings, Industrial Development Corporation, Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, and the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company. — Staff Writer.