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Trump heaps more misery on Mnangagwa, govt

by Staff reporter
07 Mar 2020 at 06:54hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Donald Trump has extended the United States of America(USA)'s sanctions against Zimbabwe after accusing Harare of accelerating its human rights violations and failing to implement needed political reforms, the Daily News reports.

This comes as Zimbabwe's re-engagement efforts with Western powers appear to be floundering, following growing criticism of Harare's alleged failure to break from the tyrannical culture of the regime of the late former president Robert Mugabe.

It also comes as the country is in the vice grip of a gigantic economic crisis - its worst since 2009 when Zimbabwe abandoned its then worthless currency and introduced the stability-inducing multiple currency system which was anchored by the US dollar.

A week after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sjamboked the country and also warned that Zimbabwe was headed for a mega economic and humanitarian crisis, Trump announced on Wednesday that he was extending US sanctions against Harare - which he accuses of wrecking the economy and failing to implement needed reforms,

"despite being given ample time to do so".

"In the wake of the resignation of former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017, Zimbabwe's national elections in July 2018, and … Mugabe's subsequent death in September 2019, Zimbabwe has had ample opportunity to implement reforms that could set the country on a constructive path, stabilise the southern African region, and open the door to greater co-operation 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 extra-judicial killings, rapes and alleged abductions of numerous dissidents," Trump said.

The decision followed Trump's recent assertion that Zimbabwe's problems were man-made and required Mnangagwa's government to correct them by implementing all needed reforms and ending executive corruption.

In addition his administration has also pooh-poohed recurring claims by Harare and some Sadc leaders that Western sanctions are behind Zimbabwe's deepening economic rot.

Meanwhile, the government says it is disappointed by Trump's decision to extend US sanctions, while also denying strongly the alleged rape and extra-judicial killings of civilians by security forces.

"Government has noted with dismay the White House message to the United States Congress, in which a decision was made to extend the sanctions against … Zimbabwe, for one more year.

"Once again, the government of the United States has chosen to strangely characterise Zimbabwe as a country that ‘poses an extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States'.

"We find this a baffling position. All the Zimbabwean government asks for is to be allowed space to be a full member of the community of nations transacting without restrictions as other nations do," government spokesperson Nick Mangwana said yesterday.

"We don't seek to interfere with the foreign policy or interests of any nation and we have no history of doing that.

"The government … strongly objects to the unfounded assertion that its security forces engaged in acts of extra-judicial killings and rape against its own citizens … last year.

"Any acts of criminality by anyone are subjected to the criminal justice processes of the country," Mangwana added.

He also said that the country had embarked on a reform path in the best interests of the nation - further pleading for patience from countries seeking to partner with Zimbabwe.

Relations between Zimbabwe and Washington have been frosty for nearly two decades since the country embarked on chaotic and widely-criticised land reforms which saw many commercial farmers losing their land at the height of Mugabe's long and ruinous rule.

The move proved disastrous for the country and its long-suffering citizens as this resulted in Zimbabwe's isolation from the rest of the international community, while also destroying the agricultural sector.

It also saw Zimbabwe's critical credit lines and trade facilities being blocked, following the imposition of sanctions on the country - amid widespread criticism of the country's human rights record.
This subsequently resulted in Zimbabwe hitting rock bottom economically a decade ago, which left most citizens dirty poor and living on less than a dollar a day - with many companies closing down and investors pulling out.

Mnangagwa and his administration have been trying since 2017 to mend Zimbabwe's broken relations with the USA and other Western powers, through a spirited re-engagement campaign.

However, since the August 2018 killings by soldiers who fired live ammunition at crowds to break an ugly demonstration in Harare, the 77-year-old Zanu-PF leader has suffered several reverses in his re-engagement drive - after a number of own goals by the government, including more killings of civilians in January 2019 by security forces.

As a result, both the USA and the European Union (EU) have said Mnangagwa's government is failing to capitalise on the goodwill that was presented to the country following the ouster from power of Mugabe by the military - which included the West unusually endorsing the November 2017 coup.

Trump's administration and the EU have been ramping up the heat on Harare over the past few months to implement sweeping political and economic reforms - including holding much-needed political talks with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, to rescue the country from its worsening economic rot.

The deepening economic crisis has increased the calls for dialogue between Mnangagwa and Chamisa.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki - who helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe - has been trying hard to nudge Mnangagwa and Chamisa to hold the mooted direct talks.

His visit to Harare in December last year was part of plans by Sadc and the African Union to end Zimbabwe's long-running political dispute which is threatening to destabilise the entire sub-region.

Source - dailynews