US ignores calls to lift targeted Zim sanctions, extends them beyond March 2020

An election poster for Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg)
An election poster for Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg)

The United States has extended the targeted sanctions it first imposed on certain companies and individuals in Zimbabwe in 2003 to beyond March 2020, ignoring calls by the southern African country, supported by regional bodies, to have them removed.

Last year, Zimbabwe, supported by several African countries and regional bodies, embarked on a campaign to have the US sanctions removed, saying they were preventing the country's sustainable economic recovery.

Other arguments included that the sanctions were preventing Zimbabwe from accessing international capital.

The country is experiencing both hyperinflation and its second currency collapse within 15 years.

On Wednesday the US government announced it had extended the sanctions first imposed in March, 2003. 

The Trump administration said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has "arguably accelerated its persecution of critics and economic mismanagement in the past year, during which security forces have conducted extrajudicial killings, rapes, and alleged abductions of numerous dissidents.”

It said that following the resignation of Zimbabwe's long-time former President Robert Mugabe in November 2017, the country has had "ample opportunity to implement reforms that could set the country on a constructive path" but the Mnangagwa administration has "yet to signal credible political will to implement such reforms".

US Assistant Secretary of State, Tibor Nagy, said last year the US sanctions are not against the country of Zimbabwe but certain individuals and companies. 

"We do not, repeat, do not have sanctions against the country of Zimbabwe. We have sanctions against certain individuals and certain corporations and there could be greater detail on that, but not against the country of Zimbabwe," he said in a telephonic press briefing in October 2019. "There is nothing to stop US businesses from investing in Zimbabwe, from going to Zimbabwe".

Some Zimbabweans have complained, however, that placing sanctions on some of the country's key decision makers in effect puts a risk premium on the whole economy.

According to AFP, Zimbabwe's Secretary for Information, Nick Mangwana, said the "government has noted with dismay the White House message" extending the sanctions for another year.

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