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Ask Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong to cancel Australia’s residual ‘smart sanctions’ on Zimbabwe

Australian ‘smart sanctions’ are out-of-date

1. ‘Smart Sanctions’ target specific people to stop them travelling to Australia or having assets in Australia. ‘Smart Sanctions’ are ‘smart’ because they don’t impact on the general population. They were imposed in 2002 because of Dictator Robert Mugabe’s gross human rights violations. But Mugabe was deposed in November 2017, and died in September 2019. His dictatorship is long over.

2. Apart from Grace Mugabe, who has left Zimbabwe, the five people still listed for sanction were removed from power in 2017, or helped remove Mugabe in 2017.

Australian ‘smart sanctions’ are hurting ordinary Zimbabweans

1. Australia’s ‘smart sanctions’ mean that Telstra does not connect to Zimbabwe! This and other unintended consequences discourage tourism and reduce foreign aid.
2. US banks avoid all Zimbabwe transactions for fear of heavy fines for breaching similar US sanctions, and this stops local businesses and foreign investment in Zimbabwe.

By lifting these residual ‘smart sanctions’, Australia would increase pressure on the USA, UK and Europe to also lift these outdated measures with their perverse sweeping impacts on ordinary Zimbabweans. Please add your name to the petition.


Article 41 of the United Nations Charter provides that sanctions are “’measures not involving the use of armed force’, including a ‘complete or partial interruption of economic relations…”

The aims of sanctions defined in Australia’s Autonomous Sanctions Bill 2010 are: ‘to limit the adverse consequences of the situation of international concern (for example, by denying access to military or paramilitary goods, or to goods, technologies or funding that are enabling the pursuit of programs of proliferation concern); to seek to influence those responsible for giving rise to the situation of international concern to modify their behaviour to remove the concern (by motivating them to adopt different policies); and to penalise those responsible (for example, by denying access to international travel or to the international financial system).’

In 2002 Australia imposed sanctions in relation to Zimbabwe citing concerns about political violence and human rights violations. Adjustments were made to the sanctions in 2012 and 2013 as some progress was made with the Government of National Unity (GNU), however the sanctions regime still imposes a restriction on
1. supply of arms and related services to Zimbabwe; and
2. providing or dealing with assets of designated persons or entities listed in the Consolidated list.

As at May 2023, there are five (5) individuals and one (1) entity listed on the Consolidated list, i.e. Augustine Chihuri, Constantine Chiwenga, Grace Mugabe, Happyton Bonyongwe, Phillip Valerio Sibanda, and Zimbabwe Defence Industries (PVT) Ltd. It is important to note that three Chihuri, Bonyongwe and Grace Mugabe were deposed in 2017, and Chiwenga and Sibanda played crucial roles in deposing them.

The US government fines of $18 million on Standard Chartered Bank in 2019, US$385 million against CBZ Bank in 2017, and US$2.5 million on Barclays Bank in 2016 have led most banks to decide to stop any transactions with anybody in Zimbabwe in case they get fined for reaching a person on the US list of ‘smart sanctions

The sanctions did impact on Mugabe, but are no longer relevant following the removal of Mugabe in 2017. The sanctions however are significantly affecting the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans by:
1. Restricting foreign investment into the Zimbabwean Economy
2. Discouraging tourism
3. Cutting off foreign aid
4. Stopping Zimbabweans from participating in international trade
5. Encouraging corruption

The sanctions on Zimbabwe are now hurting the lives of the people they were supposed to protect, and must be lifted now.