US targets Zimbabwe leadership in sanctions revampMon, 04 Mar 2024 20:51:32 GMT

The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other senior leaders but scrapped a broad two-decade-old pressure campaign on the troubled country, replacing it with targeted action.Citing rights abuses and corruption, President Joe Biden’s administration slapped sanctions on 11 Zimbabweans including Mnangagwa and three companies.The order blocks any assets they hold in the United States and bars them from unofficial travel to the country.Biden simultaneously abolished an earlier sanctions program on Zimbabwe launched in 2003. Other than the people listed on Monday, Zimbabweans formerly under US sanctions will see restrictions lifted.”The changes we are making today are intended to make clear what has always been true: our sanctions are not intended to target the people of Zimbabwe,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said. “We are refocusing our sanctions on clear and specific targets: President Mnangagwa’s criminal network of government officials and businesspeople who are most responsible for corruption or human rights abuse against the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the new measures were part of a “stronger, more targeted sanctions policy” on Zimbabwe as he voiced concern over “serious cases of corruption and human rights abuse.””Key individuals, including members of the government of Zimbabwe, bear responsibility for these actions, including the looting of government coffers that robs Zimbabweans of public resources,” Blinken said in a statement.”Multiple cases of abductions, physical abuse, and unlawful killing have left citizens living in fear.”Sanctions are a top tool for the United States, the world’s largest economy, but critics say Washington often wields its stick for eternity and without any way of appeals, reducing the incentives for blacklisted people to change their ways.On Zimbabwe, some people listed under the former sanctions program are no longer in government or are even dead, US officials said.The earlier sanctions — while also primarily targeting the Zimbabwean leadership under veteran president Robert Mugabe — were part of a major pressure campaign led by then president George W. Bush in coordination with Britain following a campaign of forced takeover of land from white farmers.- Zimbabwe claims win -The Zimbabwean government praised the lifting of the old set of sanctions, which it has long blamed for the dire economy in a country with one of the world’s highest inflation rates.”Well, this is massive,” government spokesman Nick Mangwana wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, in what he called “a great vindication” of Mnangagwa’s foreign policy.”That said, as long our president is under sanctions Zimbabwe remains under illegal sanctions, as long as members of the First Family are under sanctions, Zimbabwe remains under illegal sanctions, and as long as senior leadership is under sanctions, we are all under sanctions,” he wrote.State Department spokesman Matthew Miller quipped in response: “It’s rare that you see a government say that sanctions on the sitting president is a victory for the government.”In Zimbabwe’s neighbor Zambia, President Hakainde Hichilema — a growing US partner hailed in Washington for his commitment to democracy — praised Biden for terminating the 2003 sanctions program.”This is further evidence that Pres. Biden listens to his African partners. We hope this is an opportunity for a new direction for Zimbabwe and regional engagement,” Hichilema wrote on X.Mnangagwa, whose party has been in power for more than four decades, was declared the winner of a new term in an election in August that international observers said fell short of democratic standards.Hopes of a thaw with Zimbabwe briefly surfaced after Mnangagwa pushed Mugabe out of power in 2017, but Western powers and rights groups say that the government remains intolerant to opposition and protests.Others targeted by the latest sanctions include First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa as well as Zimbabwe’s first vice president, defense minister and military chief.burs-sct/des