Some Zimbabweans have commended U.S president Barack Obama for extending targeted sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle, noting that local people are still not allowed to exercise their democratic rights by the ruling Zanu PF party.
But others say the restrictive measures are not having any impact on the president and his colleagues.
President Obama extended the sanctions yesterday saying the political situation has not improved in Zimbabwe following the imposition of the restrictive measures a couple of years ago.
In a statement, Obama said the extension of an executive order declared by former U.S president George Bush is designed to protect United States’ interests and promote democracy in the southern African nation.
Mr. Obama said some members of the ruling Zanu PF government and other persons are still undermining the country’s democratic processes and as a result contributing to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law.
Reacting to this move, Harare resident, Ostallos Siziba, said extension of the sanctions is necessary as Zimbabwe has failed to adhere to democratic principles. He said the sanctions will be a reminder to the government on the need to institute the necessary reforms.
“The extension of sanctions on Zimbabwe by the government of USA is a reflection on Zimbabwe's failure to uphold the principal of rule of law and free and fair elections. Zimbabwean authorities are responsible for gross violations against humanity and the purpose of sanctions is for them to uphold the rule of law and it is also key to know that the sanctions are targeted at individuals.
“To the general citizen this is ok because we are avoiding continuation of looting of capital by individuals in government so that they expand their territories in the economic space. The sanctions are necessary for economic development . Zimbabwe in 2018 should hold free and fair elections to avoid another extension of sanctions.
Another Harare resident, Ambrose Rusike, said removing the sanctions without reform would be tantamount to encouraging President Mugabe and his team to continue trampling on human rights in the country.
“Extension of sanctions on Mugabe is welcome because Mugabe has shown no desire to reform. There are issues like electoral fraud and human rights issues with Dzamara a journalists cum activist still missing. The record is clear that Mugabe has not reformed from his old ways he is still the same so he does not deserve to be removed from the sanctions list.
“Some other people may say sanctions are hurting Zimbabwe but I feel this is not true. We are failing to borrow money because we do not pay back and this has nothing to do with sanctions. The move is a clear message to Mugabe that he cannot continue to trample on human rights and violate democratic processes with the world ignoring as SADC has always been doing.”
But local resident, Tichaona Makwara, said the sanctions are not effective as they give President Mugabe an excuse of failing to run the country.
Makwara said, “To a larger extent these sanctions aren't serving their purpose as the Mugabe regime is now blaming all its failures on sanctions. Failure to revive the economy they blame sanctions, lack of drug shortages they blame sanctions. They are now using the sanctions as a smokescreen to mask their failure to turnaround the economy. So the sanctions are not actually serving their purpose.”
Foreign Affairs Minister recently challenged Europe and America to spell out the human rights abuse claims in Zimbabwe.
“No reasons are given for the renewal of sanctions except the long worn demand for rule of law, democracy. We have challenged them that human rights cannot be generalised. Human Rights violations are specific, so and so rights have been violated if you can be able to correct. They also say lack of democracy but they don’t come out to say where is the deficit. Rule of law where have we not observed nothing is said.
“I and the president have met ministers from Europe and America and challenged them. Of late they have jumped to the Dzamara issue but then the question is before Dzamara what was the reason for the sanctions. How many people go missing in the states and in Europe and are not found. Why should Zimbabwe therefore be punished for the missing of Dzamara?”
According to President Obama, human rights violations and undemocratic processes in Zimbabwe continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.
Former U.S. president George Bush declared a national emergency on Zimbabwe, under Executive Order 13288 of 2003, accusing the country of undermining democratic practices.