Trump cranks up heat on ED, Govt. . . says graft and lack of reforms at heart of Zim crisis
THE United States of America (USA) has reiterated that Zimbabwe’s problems are man-made and require President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to correct them by implementing all needed reforms and ending executive corruption, the Daily News reports.
In addition President Donald Trump’s administration has also pooh-poohed recurring claims by Harare and some Sadc leaders that Western sanctions are behind Zimbabwe’s deepening economic rot.
This comes as pressure is growing within the region and the African Union (AU) for Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa to end their long-running political feud and work together in Zimbabwe’s interest.
Now, Trump’s administration has re-asserted forcefully that the West’s punitive measures against Zimbabwe have absolutely nothing to do with the country’s myriad problems.
USA ambassador to Botswana, Craig Lewis Cloud, also told Sadc executive secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax yesterday that Zimbabwe had to implement all the needed political and economic reforms to reduce the suffering of its people.
“Today (yesterday) Ambassador Cloud and Tax discussed the root causes of US sanctions in Zimbabwe, namely human rights abuses and anti-democratic efforts.
“Ambassador Cloud also discussed how failed economic policies and corruption have combined to create the current economic crisis in Zimbabwe,” the US’s Botswana embassy said after a meeting of the two envoys.
In addition, the embassy later emphasised that the sanctions that had been slapped on Zimbabwe were because the Zanu PF government had continuously violated its people’s rights and also overseen several disputed elections.
“US sanctions largely target those who engage in corruption, violate human rights and undermine democratic institutions or processes … Failed economic policies and corruption, not sanctions, hinder Zimbabwe’s economic growth.
“Millions of dollars have been lost due to decades of corruption and harmful economic policies which have culminated in the current economic crisis.
“Zimbabwe has had both prosperous and difficult years during the life of targeted sanctions programme,” the embassy said.
“Implementation of economic and political reforms are key to improving Zimbabwe’s trajectory,” it added.
Relations between Zimbabwe and Washington have been frosty for nearly two decades since the country embarked on chaotic and widely-criticised land reforms which saw many commercial farmers losing their land at the height of the late former president Robert 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 agricultural sector.
It also saw Zimbabwe’s critical credit lines and trade facilities being blocked, following the imposition of sanctions on the country — amid widespread criticism of the country’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.
Mnangagwa and his administration have been trying to mend all these years of Zimbabwe’s broken relations with the USA and other Western powers, through a spirited re-engagement campaign.
However, since the August 2018 killings by soldiers who fired live ammunition to break up an ugly demonstration in Harare, the 77-year-old Zanu PF leader has suffered several reverses in his re-engagement drive — after a number of own goals by the government, including more killings of civilians in January 2019 by security forces.
As a result, both the US and the European Union (EU) have said Mnangagwa’s government is failing to capitalise on the goodwill that was extended to the country following the ouster from power of Mugabe by the military.
Trump’s administration and the EU have been ramping up the heat on Harare over the past few months to implement sweeping political and economic reforms — including holding much-needed political talks with Chamisa, to rescue the country from its worsening economic rot.
Meanwhile, the MDC has told the United Nations’ Electoral Needs Assessment Mission — which is currently in the country — to evaluate the capacity of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), in a bid to push the government to introduce a raft of electoral reforms.
“Electoral reforms are the nerve centre for Zimbabwe’s electoral cycle and a key determinant to the freeness, fairness and peacefulness of the elections.
“Political contestations and misgivings of the MDC in the electoral process outcomes are entirely attributable to the lack of electoral reforms.
“The MDC is concerned with the non-implementation of electoral laws, failure to align the electoral laws to the constitution, and … the reversal of the electoral gains of the new constitution through negative constitutional amendments,” the opposition party said.
“The results transmission system used in the 2018 harmonised elections is a major bone of contention, and the MDC vehemently expressed that in its Constitutional Court appeal against the outcome of the presidential results.
“There was no consistency in the results transmission system, particularly between the Parliamentary and presidential election results, unjustified delays in the announcement of results and results blackouts which ultimately caused protests in August 2018, and the subsequent shooting of innocent civilians by the military,” it added.
“Regardless of the promulgation of a new voters’ roll, there are still immense queries and discrepancies which bring to question the integrity of the voters’ roll.
“Reference is made to the MDC letter to Zec dated September 3, 2019 regarding voters’ roll queries and the subsequent follow-up letter, of which to date Zec has never bothered to respond to both letters.
“The UN can assist by providing support for at least two or three accounting firms to audit the voters’ roll,” the MDC said further.
Political analysts and several groupings, including the church, have said the failure by Mnangagwa and Chamisa to heal their rift — emanating from the disputed July 2018 elections — has exacerbated the economic hardships being felt by long-suffering Zimbabweans.
This comes as the country is experiencing its worst economic crisis in a decade, which has increased the calls for dialogue between Mnangagwa and Chamisa.
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki — who helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe, who are both late — is also trying very hard to nudge Mnangagwa and Chamisa to hold talks.
His visit to Harare in December last year was part of plans by Sadc and the AU to end Zimbabwe’s long-running political dispute, which is threatening to destabilise the entire sub-region.