Zimbabwe: Wives of officials off EU sanctions list

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Thirty five Zimbabweans, mainly wives of President Robert Mugabe’s close associates, who where on European Union travel sanctions have been let off the hook. But the veteran leader and his inner circle are still on the list.

The European Union, Tuesday, announced that it had dropped 35 people from a list of Zimbabweans hit by a travel ban and asset freeze saying the move had been necessitated by “significant progress” made by Harare in delivering basic services to its citizens.

But the EU left 163 people and 31 businesses on the list, including Mr. Mugabe, and kept an arms embargo as it noted a lack of progress on the political front and a recent spike in political violence.

In a statement, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said: “Economic and social developments have not been matched by equivalent progress on the political front (…) In this context, I have to express my deep concerns at the upsurge in political violence seen in recent weeks”.

Notwithstanding the revision of the travel ban and asset freeze, sanctions against personalities and businesses who remained on the list were further extended by a period of 12 months.

“We have therefore decided to extend by a period of one year the measures, consisting of (i) a visa ban and asset freeze relating to a list of named individuals and businesses; (ii) an arms embargo; and (iii) other measures, taken within the context of Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement.”

Off the hook

Removed from the list are spouses of several Zanu PF and security chiefs, among them Willia Bonyongwe, wife of the Central Intelligence Organisation boss, Happyton Bonyongwe, Anne Flora Chairuka, who is married to the Commander of the Zimbabwe Prison Service, Paradzai Zimondi and Rudo Grace Charamba, wife of Presidential spokesman George Charamba.

Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri’s wife, Isobel Halima and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono’s wife, Helen are now free. Also removed are Tsitsi Chihuri, wife of Minister of State Security in the President’s office Sydney Sekeramayi, Choice Parirenyatwa, former Health minister David Parirenyatwa’s wife, and Patricia Made, Agriculture minister Joseph Made’s wife.

Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president Fortune Charumbira, former Deputy Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Abigail Damasane, Peter Chingoka, the president of Zimbabwe Cricket, Lazarus Dokora the Deputy Minister of Education, Victoria Chitepo, a politburo member, Samuel Undenge the Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Development are all off the sanctions list.

Former Attorney General Sobusa Gula Ndebele, former Mashonaland East governor Ray Kaukonde, Zanu PF politburo member Kumbirai Kangai, Aguy Georgias, the Deputy Minister of Public Works, Theophilus Gambe, the chairperson of the Electoral Supervisory Commission, former Finance and Economic Development minister Chris Kuruneri have also benefited.

Deputy Senate president Naison Ndlovu, Zanu PF politburo members Joshua Malinga, Richard Ndlovu, George Nyathi, Khantibhal Patel, Selina Pote, Zvishavane Ngezi MP Obert Matshalaga, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Tracey Mutinhiri, Melusi Matshiya, the secretary for Home Affairs, and Timothy Stamps, health advisor to Mr Mugabe.

Since 2002, nearly 200 people who make up Mr Mugabe’s inner circle – and the president himself – have faced visa bans and had their assets frozen by the European Union.

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