and Godknows Matarutse
ONLY genuine national dialogue that includes the opposition and other key stakeholders in the country can energise Zimbabwe’s faltering re-engagement efforts with Western powers, political analysts say.
This comes as United States of America president, Joe Biden, has renewed Washington’s sanctions on Harare — a few weeks after the British government imposed punitive measures against the country’s security chiefs and a former military commander, over allegations of human rights violations.
It also comes as Zimbabwe’s new Foreign Affairs minister, Frederick Shava, has said that he will continue to engage the USA and Europe, as part of the country’s re-engagement drive.
In a letter sent to the US Congress on Wednesday evening, Biden said his move to extend sanctions against Zimbabwe was in line with his country’s National Emergencies Act.
“In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288 of March 6, 2003, with respect to the actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions is to continue in effect beyond March 6, 2021.
“President … Mnangagwa has not made the necessary political and economic reforms that would warrant terminating the existing targeted sanctions programme.
“Throughout the last year, government security services routinely intimidated and violently repressed citizens, including members of opposition political parties, union members and journalists,” Biden said.
“The absence of progress on the most fundamental reforms needed to ensure the rule of law, democratic governance and the protection of human rights leaves Zimbabweans vulnerable to ongoing repression and
presents a continuing threat to peace and security in the region.
“Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order
13288, as amended, with respect to Zimbabwe and to maintain in force the sanctions to respond to this threat,” he added.
Biden is one of the authors of the sanctions law against Harare — the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) — which the USA passed in 2002 in response to alleged human rights violations and the chaotic agrarian reforms of the late former president Robert Mugabe.
Political analysts told the Daily News yesterday that the continuing sanctions against Zimbabwe by the USA, Britain and the European Union (EU), warranted that President Emmerson Mnangagwa holds national dialogue with the opposition and other key stakeholders in the country.
Renowned professor of World Politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (OAS), Stephen Chan, said the Biden administration had no choice but to maintain its sanctions on Harare — following recent Freedom House rankings which saw Zimbabwe dropping from being classified as “partly free” to “not free”, and attaining a score of only 28 out of 100.
“While Freedom House is not a governmental body, and while its rankings are often controversial, if not simply wrong, it has immense influence on Washington policy makers.
“Biden simply could not be seen in the US not at least maintaining sanctions. The signal to Zimbabwe is a simple if not a bluntly-expressed one. “The West now looks towards national dialogue in Zimbabwe as the key factor in ameliorating or doing away with sanctions. This is a decision only Mnangagwa can take,” Chan told the Daily News.
“There is no end of readiness to broker and assist with talks. Just the sight of the opposing leaders sitting around the same table would send the first of what must become several signals back to Washington,” he added.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Clever Mumbengegwi, also said Biden’s move was not surprising.
“It was always obvious that the US would not lift sanctions it imposed on the country when one looks at what their expectations on the Zimbabwe government are. “There have been no new developments that suggest that Zimbabwe is now being governed according to the dictates of the US foreign policy.
“It, therefore, means that Mnangagwa’s efforts to reengage with the West are up in smoke after the EU and the UK did the same recently,” Mumbengegwi told the Daily News.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the US have been frosty since the country embarked on chaotic and widely criticised land reforms 20 years ago, which saw many commercial farmers losing their land at the height of Mugabe’s ruinous rule.
The move proved disastrous for the country and its long-suffering citizens, as this resulted in Zimbabwe’s isolation
from the rest of the international community, while also destroying the critical agricultural sector. It also saw Zimbabwe’s credit lines and trade facilities being blocked following the imposition of sanctions on the country amid widespread criticism of Harare’s human rights record.
This subsequently resulted in Zimbabwe hitting rock bottom economically a decade ago, which left most citizens dirt poor and living on less than a dollar a day — with many companies closing down and investors pulling out.
Last month, the UK slapped sanctions on State Security minister Owen Ncube, former commander of the presidential guard Anselem Sanyatwe, police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga and Central Intelligence Organisation directorgeneral Isaac Moyo.
Less than two weeks later, the EU also renewed its restrictions after its meeting in Brussels, with the bloc’s council expressing concern that Zimbabwe’s multi-faceted and prolonged crisis had allegedly deepened.
“The EU has decided to renew its arms embargo and to maintain a targeted assets freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, taking into account the situation in Zimbabwe, including the continuing need to investigate the role of security force actors in human rights abuses.
“The EU will continue to closely follow developments, with a particular attention to the human rights situation, and
recalls its readiness to review and adapt the whole range of its policies accordingly,” the bloc said.
Meanwhile, Shava — like his late predecessor Sibusiso Moyo — has said that he would prioritise the rebuilding of Zimbabwe’s political and economic relations with the international community — including promoting the country as a reliable trading partner and safe haven for investments and tourism.
“There is nothing new. I will continue with the pronouncement made by the president … during the inception of the new dispensation that Zimbabwe would like to be a friend for all, and in pursuit of that, we are going to try our best to reaffirm our friendship with our all-weather friends, countries that never left us even at the height of our problems with the international community.
“We are going to engage new countries who may not have supported us in the past, but who want to support us now. “We are also going to reengage with the countries that may have been disgruntled at the onset of our land reform programme which led to various sanctions by some countries and institutions,” Shava said after being sworn in to replace SB Moyo on Tuesday