PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s re-engagement drive suffered a major setback yesterday after United States President Joe Biden extended sanctions imposed on the country by another year over human rights violations.
The sanctions, camouflaged under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera), were first imposed on the southern African country in 2003 targeting individuals as well as banning direct government assistance for non-humanitarian programmes.
Some of the individuals on the US sanctions list include Zanu PF officials Patrick Chinamasa, Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri, former State security minister Owen Ncube, ex-ministers Sydney Sekeramayi and Saviour Kasukuwere, and State-owned companies such as the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, among others.
The sanctions have been renewed regularly despite government on several occasions lamenting that the embargo was hurting the economy and the general public.
Washington has, however, insisted that the embargo was targeted and were of no consequence to the general public and the economy.
Biden said the sanctions were being renewed because there was no significant departure from anti-democratic tendencies by Mnangagwa’s administration, adding that this posed an unusual foreign policy threat for Washington.
“On March 6, 2003, by Executive Order 13288, the President declared a national emergency and blocked the property of certain persons, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 USC 1701-1706), to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions,” a statement from the White House read.
“The actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.
“For this reason, the national emergency declared on March 6, 2003, and the measures adopted on that date, on November 22, 2005, and on July 25, 2008, to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond March 6, 2022.
“Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for one year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288. This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.”
The renewal of the sanctions came less than a month after the European Union extended the arms embargoes on Zimbabwe.
Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa yesterday said the ruling part was not fazed by the further extension of the sanctions.
“It vindicates our party stance that the sanctions are retributive and vindictive because we took back our land and its resources, both of which colonialism and white minority settler rule had robbed from us, also that the accusations of violence in Kwekwe were a stage-managed false flag operation by a complicit and compromised Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC),” he said.
Upon assuming office in 2017, Mnangagwa pledged to roll out a reform agenda anchored on a re-engagement drive to normalise relations with the West as well as multilateral financiers, while also campaigning for the removal of the sanctions.
Mnangagwa hired international consultants in the re-engagement drive, but the West has stuck to its guns, insisting that sanctions would only be removed following the implementation of the reform agenda by government.
For its part, Zanu PF has rallied Africa in the anti-sanctions drive with October 25 set aside as the Anti-Sanctions Day.