The group said this in a commentary on the state of affairs in the country released on its website on Monday.
“ A bold approach to the sanctions issue is necessary to refocus efforts on the actions needed to break the political stalemate in Zimbabwe before elections are held that otherwise threaten to be as violent and undemocratic as the 2008 round,” the group said.
The Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed by the country’s three main political parties states that they shall all collectively call for the removal of sanctions but nothing of that sort has so far happened with the mainstream MDC party led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai insisting that the prerogative to remove sanctions is the sole responsibility of the sanctioning countries.
However for its party Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has been arguing that it will not concede to any reforms until sanctions have been removed.
In its commentary, ICG, said although the political parties claim to support ending sanctions the issue is still being treated “more as a political football than a problem to be resolved.”
In addition it says while the sanctioning countries claim that any removal of sanctions will not help in forcing Zanu PF officials reform, the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) appointed facilitator and South African President, Jacob Zuma argue that the continuation of the sanction regime will do nothing but give the country’s politicians an excuse to renege on implementing reform targets.
“President Mugabe and ZANU-PF manipulate the issue politically and propagandise it as part of their efforts to frustrate reforms and mobilise against perceived internal and external threats to national sovereignty”, says Piers Pigou, Crisis Group’s Southern Africa Project Director.
“Supporters of sanctions have not connected individual measures adequately to the broader struggle for democracy, and they have never gained support for them from the region”.
Sanctions were introduced in response to political violence, human rights abuses and rule-of-law violations, as well as deteriorating democratic standards that followed the violent 2000 and 2002 elections. They include targeted measures against individuals and entities, like visa bans and asset freezes; restrictions on much government-to-government aid (though not humanitarian and some development help), as well as on access to loans and credits in international financial institutions; and arms embargoes.
SADC has so far sent emissaries to western capitals to try and get them to remove sanctions imposed on Zanu PF officials but the western countries have largely maintained that any removal of the restrictive measures should only come after a demonstration of genuine reform in Zimbabwe.