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United States Says Zimbabwe Government Should Protect Citizens' Rights

United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Robert Destro.
United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Robert Destro.

United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Robert Destro, says targeted sanctions alone imposed on Zanu PF leaders and come companies linked to some ruling party officials cannot address issues affecting Zimbabwe.

Speaking in a teleconference with journalists based in different nations on Thursday, Destro said there is need for Zimbabwean authorities to do more to ensure the protect the rights of citizens.

He said, “Is sanctioning enough? No, sanctioning is not enough. At the end of the day, the responsibility to police the boundaries of human rights rests with the Zimbabwean people themselves, and we respect their sovereignty. Our job is to call the situation as we see it and to offer whatever assistance we can that is, that’s consistent with a healthy, vibrant bilateral relationship.”

He also added that it is possible to remove restrictive measures imposed on some Zanu PF leaders.

“… I do think that one of the things that comes out in the Zimbabwe sanctions is that it’s possible to get them lifted. And I would be extremely surprised if people were not engaging people in the process of trying to get the sanctions lifted.”

Destro further said the U.S’s decision to impose sanctions on some Zimbabwean politicians is always done after a thorough and well-thought out process.

“We can’t really comment on sanctions in terms of any kind of a pending sanctions case. All I can tell you is that it’s a lengthy process. It’s very fact sensitive. We try and be very fair to everybody involved. It’s not exactly a judicial process, but it’s pretty close to one. And so it’s …. So, all I can tell you is that if we have credible evidence that people would be eligible, we will consider it and run through the process,” he said.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa and Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo were not available for comment.

The United States imposed targeted sanctions on senior Zanu PF officials in 2003, citing alleged gross human rights violations and election rigging.

President Donald Trump renewed the sanctions on March 6th saying the political situation in Zimbabwe remains the same following the removal of the late former president Robert Mugabe in a defacto military coup in 2017.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control on Tuesday removed former Mashonaland East governor Ray Kaukonde and three other people from the targeted sanctions list and reinforced the State Department’s restrictive measures imposed on former special forces commander, Anselem Sanyatwe, and State Security Minister Owen Ncube.

The U.S. Department of State said the Treasury Department removed sanctions on Ray Kaukonde, Shuvai Ben Mahofa, Sithokozile Mathuthu, and Naison Ndlovu, all of whom were previously designated pursuant to Treasury’s authorities “but are deceased and/or no longer meet the sanctions criteria.

“Removing previously designated persons from OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List demonstrates that sanctions do not need to be permanent, and that targeted sanctions reflect realities on the ground in Zimbabwe.”

On Sanyatwe and Ncube, the U.S. State Department said they were linked to human rights abuses related to political repression in Zimbabwe. The two were put on the sanctions list last year.

“These designations demonstrate continued U.S. commitment to promoting accountability for human rights abuses. The State Department urges the Government of Zimbabwe to immediately end state-sponsored violence including against peaceful protesters, civil society, labor leaders and members of the opposition in Zimbabwe, and to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuse.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Sanyatwe and Ncube pursuant to Executive Order 13469, which reinforces the Department of State’s previous designations in 2019 under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act.