The United States has extended targeted sanctions imposed on some Zanu PF officials saying President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government “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.”
In statement posted on the White House website on Wednesday, the Donald Trump administration said the Zimbabwean government missed an opportunity to implement political and economic reforms and as a result, the United States has extended the targeted sanctions beyond March, 2020.
“In the wake of the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe in November 2017, Zimbabwe’s national elections in July 2018, and President Mugabe’s subsequent death in September 2019, Zimbabwe has had ample opportunity to implement reforms that could set the country on a constructive path, stabilize the southern African region, and open the door to greater cooperation with the United States.
“Unfortunately, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has yet to signal credible political will to implement such reforms. Indeed, the Zimbabwean government 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.”
The White House further said, “These actions and policies by certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States. Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288 with respect to Zimbabwe.”
According to the Trump administration, Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days before the anniversary date of its declaration, the president publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date.
“In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication … the 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, 2020.”
Reacting to the extension of the targeted sanctions, Zanu PF Central Committee member, Joseph Tshuma said, “Well it is very regrettable and retrogressive for the United States government to actually do such a thing. We thought that the whole mantra was about reengaging with each other and reasoning with each other, and we also know definitely that this extension of sanctions does not emanate from all these allegations that they want to support like to say that the soldiers are killing people, or that human rights abuses.
“I totally know for a fact that this is all hogwash. What the United States is really doing is fighting in the corner of former colonizers who had taken all the land and because we have not reversed our land reform, they will definitely keep on punishing us. This I say also with an observation of what the (U.S.) Secretary of State actually said to South Africa to say the moment you touch land, you shall definitely see the wrath that is going to come upon you as a state, like as America to South Africa. And you ask yourself that we have seen even more atrocities in South Africa, we have seen Xenophobic attacks, we have seen the Marikana attack, we have seen a lot of other things that are even worse than what has happened here in Zimbabwe, and yet they are not under sanctions. So it will tell you definitely it’s not about all that.”
The renewal of the restrictive measures comes at a time when African leaders have been calling for the lifting of the targeted sanctions while Zimbabwe is also engaging Washington on the political front in an attempt to lobby for their removal.
Zimbabwe signed a $1,5 million deal with some American-based organizations that were hired to lobby for the removal of the sanctions. Brian Ballard, a fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 presidential election, is the head of one of the entities hired by the southern African nation last year.
Zimbabwe’s State Security Minister, Owen Ncube, and former army general Anselem Sanyatwe were added to the sanctions list over what U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said was credible information of their involvement in “gross violations of human rights.”
U.S. targeted sanctions apply to only 86 Zimbabwean individuals and 56 entities (mostly farms and legal entities owned by the 87 individuals) as of February 2020.
The Zimbabwe sanctions program implemented by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) began on March 7, 2003, when then President George Bush issued an executive order imposing restrictive measures against “specifically identified individuals and entities in Zimbabwe, as a result of the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons undermining democratic institutions or processes in Zimbabwe.”
Following this executive order, former president Barack Obama and Trump issued other edicts extending the targeted sanctions.