The European Union may have to revise its sanctions on Zimbabwe imposed a decade ago when it meets on 18 February, two days before they are due to expire.
News that Parliament has endorsed the country’s new draft constitution which will pave way for a referendum and elections could well soften the EU stance.
In its statement in July last year the EU said it would further adjust its policy to recognise progress as it is made by the Zimbabwean parties along the SADC roadmap.
“The EU agrees that a peaceful and credible constitutional referendum would represent an important milestone in the preparation of democratic elections that would justify a suspension of the majority of all EU targeted restrictive measures against individuals and entities,” it said.
The EU removed 51 individuals and 20 entities from the visa ban and the asset freeze in February last year because of the progress Zimbabwe had already made in implementing the Global Political Agreement.
This left 112 individuals and 11 entities on the sanctions list.
Last month the European Union listed Zimbabwe as one of the four African countries that can now sell coffee, sugar cane and tobacco in the EU without paying tariffs and quotas.
Belgium is also pushing the EU to lift sanctions against the Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corporation, the country’s major diamond miner, so that it can freely sell its diamonds to the EU.
Belgium’s Antwerp is the hub of the diamond industry in Europe and could lose the market to India and China if the sanctions are maintained.
Belgium wants ZMDC de-listed on the grounds that the situation at the Marange mines has “completely changed”.