Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended a lockdown from 19 april by two weeks to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, but the measure does not concern mining companies, which are going to contintue their activities.
Mnangagwa said the lockdown would continue because Zimbabwe had not yet met conditions imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to lift the measures.
Three people have died from the virus out of the 25 confirmed cases of infection, but health experts expect the figures to rise once authorities starts to apply tests.
“It has been a very hard decision that my government has had to take reluctantly,” Mnangagwa said in a live television broadcast.
Mnangagwa said the government would allow mining companies, which generate the most foreign currency, to resume full operations while manufacturers would work at limited capacity. Mining companies operating in Zimbabwe include local operations of Impala Platinum Holdings and Anglo American Platinum.
Zimbabwe began a 21-day lockdown on March 30, which has confined most people to their homes. But in poor townships, people are venturing out in search of staples like maize meal, leading to long queues at the shops.
The Council today adopted conclusions on Zimbabwe restating the EU’s continued support for economic and political reforms in the country, as well as for the formal political dialogue which was resumed in 2019, as a step towards a more constructive EU-Zimbabwe relationship.
The conclusions note the ongoing acute humanitarian crisis in the country, and renew the EU’s support for the people of Zimbabwe in various sectors, such as economic development, primary health care, resilience building, as well as through humanitarian assistance.
Taking into account the situation in Zimbabwe, including the yet to be investigated alleged role of the armed and security forces in human rights abuses, the Council today agreed to renew its arms embargo and targeted assets freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, for one year until 20 February 2021. The existing restrictive measures against four individuals are suspended.
The arms embargo, as well as the asset freeze against Zimbabwe Defence Industries, do not affect the Zimbabwean economy, foreign direct investment, or trade.
The decision will be published in the Official Journal of the EU on 18 February 2020.
Restrictive measures were initially introduced in February 2002, when the Council expressed grave concern at the situation in Zimbabwe, in particular with regard to serious human rights violations by the country’s government at the time.
The Council conclusions highlight that the EU stands ready to review the whole range of its policies at any time, when justified, based on developments in the country.
The European Commission is mobilising a humanitarian aid package of €22.8 million to help address emergency food needs and support vulnerable people in Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The funding comes as large parts of southern Africa are currently in the grip of their harshest drought in decades.
“Many poor households in drought-affected areas in southern African countries are struggling to have enough food due to crop failure, reduced access to water and, in some places, unaffordable food prices in markets. EU humanitarian aid will help deliver food to those most in need and tackle the hunger crisis in fragile rural communities,” said Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management.
In Zimbabwe, €16.8 million from this aid package will boost food and nutrition assistance, as well as improving access to basic health care, clean water and providing protection to vulnerable people. The remaining amount will be channelled to providing food assistance and nutrition support in Eswatini, Madagascar, Lesotho and Zambia.
The Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region, as a whole, is prone to natural disasters and oscillates between droughts and floods that are destroying harvests and further weakening fragile communities. Since January 2019, the EU has allocated a total of €67.95 million for humanitarian assistance across the region. The bulk of this funding went for emergency relief assistance in the wake of natural disasters (cyclones Idai and Kenneth), food assistance, and helping at-risk communities equip themselves better to face climate-related disasters.
Zimbabwe denounced a U.S. administration decision to curb imports of diamonds from its Marange field, branding the claim the country uses forced labor at the operations “a shameless lie.”
“Invoking the repulsive prospect of alleged forced labor is a new nomenclature for seeking to bar Zimbabwe’s diamonds from the international markets,” said in a statement issued by officials in Harare. “This move constitutes a grave and serious attack on Zimbabwe’s interests and is no less than a manifestation of undeclared sanctions.”
Zimbabwe President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, will address mourners of late Robert Mugabe at the National Sports Stadium, where thousands will wear the colours of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Meanwhile African leaders are assembling in Harare, the capital, as the country prepares for former president Robert Mugabe‘s funeral on September 14 (Saturday).
Robert Mugabe family explained the late leader will be buried at the National Heroes Acre monument in Harare in “around 30 days”, Leo Mugabe said, acting as family spokesperson, adding to controversial information about the obsequies details.
“The government and the chiefs went to the Heroes Acre, showed each other where President Mugabe is going to be buried, and that place would take about 30 days to complete,” Leo Mugabe said.
“So what that means is the burial will take that long.”
More than a dozen incumbent and former leaders, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, are expected to attend. Some dignitaries, including Equatorial Guinea President Theodore Obiang Nguema, have already arrived.
A national sports stadium with capacity of 60 000 seats is expected to be filled with well-wishers. It is located in Harare close to the Heroes Acre.
The funeral follows an argument between the Mugabe family, and the government over his burial.
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s ousted President, will be buried early next week in his native village next to his mother’s grave, and not at a national monument for liberation heroes, the family informed on September 12.
The Mugabe family members, who surrounded him when he died in Singapore hospital last week, and Zimbabwe‘s government have been at odds over whether the he could be buried in his homestead in Kutama, or at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
“His body will lie in state at Kutama on Sunday night.. followed by a private burial – either Monday or Tuesday – no National Heroes Acre. That’s the decision of the whole family,” his nephew Leo Mugabe told AFP.
Zimbabwe assesses the so-called “legacy” of Robert Mugabe, who was the national leader for 37 years.The majority of comments focus on his metamorphose from a liberator to a dictator, ruining the future of many to benefit of few. The social media users point at the bitter irony of the situation of the leader who promised to improve Zimbabwe healthcare system, but ruined it instead, and ended his days in a foreign land, treated by foreign specialists.
However the health care was not the only endeavor, damaged by mismanagement. While reflecting upon Mugabe‘s ‘legacy’ commentators point out that his policies had devastating effect on all the endowments, degrading the economy from what universally was regarded as “jewel” to a current state of deprivation, with five million people risking hunger, according to the United Nations World Food Programme, calling for immediate humanitarian action.
During almost four decades of leadership, Mugabe kept the grip on power by the brutal repression of political opponents, established a culture of impunity for himself and his cronies, and his government implemented a series of policies that have had disastrous consequences for the nation, ruining the wealth accumulated by hard work of generations.
Since 1982, Amnesty International has been receiving reports of human rights violations and abuses by state security agents, targeting suspected of sympathising with Mugabe’s political opponents.
Human rights defenders, journalists, dissidents and opposition party activists were imprisoned on politically motivated charges or under oppressive laws. Many were tortured, and some forcibly disappeared, or killed.