Blow for Zimbabwe as Trump signs sanctions into law

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HARARE - Hopes of an economic turnaround in Zimbabwe are slowly fading after US President Donald Trump signed into a law a Bill meant to extend sanctions that were imposed on the southern African country back in 2001.

On Wednesday, August 8, Trump signed into law: S. 2779, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act of 2018' (Zidera Act), which amends the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001.

The new Bill had laid out US expectations for a free and fair election.

"The expectations of the 2001 legislation hold true today – Zimbabwe must make credible progress towards holding free and fair elections, restore the rule of law and ensure military subordination to the civilian government, among other desperately needed reforms," said the US in a presser released by its Foreign Affairs Committee ahead of elections.  

It’s a test Zimbabwe seems to have failed after the main opposition, the MDC Alliance, led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa, alleged that the elections were rigged by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in favour of the ruling Zanu-PF.  

Brutal force

The elections, which were largely peaceful during voting, turned violent after opposition protestors took to the streets, forcing businesses to close.

The protests saw property, including vehicles being torched by angry opposition supporters. Demonstrations were met with brutal force by the national army, with at least six people being killed by live ammunition.

The new law is seen as a major blow to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mantra that Zimbabwe is open for business. It also comes at a time that his presidential election victory is being challenged, with the main opposition expected to file its legal challenge in the country’s Constitutional Court before day end this Friday.

While the sanctions are fashioned as targeted at a few individuals, ordinary Zimbabweans have also been affected. Several Zimbabwean companies have had their export receipts, amounting to millions of dollars, seized over the years by the Office of Foreign Assets Control owing to the sanctions.

Notable companies that were on the sanctions list include Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed ZB Financial Holdings and its subsidiaries, as well as the Industrial Development Corporation, a government-owned entity. ZB, which has since been removed from the sanctions list, is on record saying the embargo hampered its efforts to attract investors or get international credit lines.

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