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Australia is maintaining sanctions against President Mugabe, the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and five service chiefs, the latest amended list from Canberra reveals.

One entity, the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (PVT) Ltd, is still on the sanctions list.

The amended list released by Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop showed that service chiefs namely Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda, Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Perrance Shiri, Central Intelligence Organisation Director General Rtd Major General Happyton Bonyongwe and police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri were still embargoed.

Australia, in a move described by analysts as deceptive, has been partially and conditionally removing the sanctions it imposed on Zimbabwe in 2002.

In February last year, the list had 153 individuals and four entities, and prohibition of defence links.

The number was trimmed down after the country successfully held the Constitutional referendum and harmonised elections that were won resoundingly by President Mugabe.

Since 2002, Australia has implemented sanctions against “persons or entities who engage in, or have engaged in, activities that seriously undermine democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe”.

The new list by Australia comes after the European Union in February kept President Mugabe and Amai Mugabe on its embargoed list but removed service chiefs, politicians and war veterans.

The sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe in 2002 after Zimbabwe embarked on the fast-track land reform programme and in an attempt to influence that year’s Presidential elections, which President Mugabe won nonetheless.

Relations have somewhat thawed in recent years despite the maintenance of sanctions, after President Mugabe dispatched a ministerial re-engagement committee to initiate dialogue with the EU.

The 28-nation EU bloc is contemplating ways of directly working with Government, starting in 2015, rather than coming through NGOs.

Source : The Herald