UNITED States President Donald Trump’s administration says it will only open dialogue with the new Zimbabwe leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, after he implements a raft of economic and political reforms.
John Taylor, the US deputy public affairs officer said the country’s recent change in government “offers an extraordinary opportunity for Zimbabwe to set itself on a new path to implement reforms that could allow the United States to re-engage in ways not previously possible”.
“We welcome President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s stated intentions to carry out political and economic reforms, but our engagement will be based on demonstrations of those reforms,” he added.
Washington imposed a raft of sanctions against Zimbabwe nearly two decades ago on the pretext of forcing then president Robert Mugabe to reform the southern African nation’s socio-economic environment that has been largely tainted by corruption, allegations of gross human rights abuses and electoral fraud.
Mugabe, however, rejected the allegations, maintaining that Zimbabwe was being punished for its controversial 2000 land reforms meant to correct historical imbalances.
The veteran ruler, who assumed power in 1980, dramatically resigned in November last year after succumbing to pressure from the military and his own ZANU-PF party, paving way for Mnangagwa, who has promised to comply with international obligations and engage the international community.
“The manner in which we previously managed our politics, both nationally and internationally led our country to be labelled a high risk pariah state,” Mnangagwa said last month.
“My government acknowledges that Zimbabwe is a member of the global community and cannot go it alone. We will, therefore, take definitive steps to re-engage those nations that have had issues with us in the past and Zimbabwe will comply with its international obligations,” he added.
However, despite Mnangagwa’s commitment to deliver free and fair elections in the coming five months, the US has indicated that it is likely to renew its sanctions on Zimbabwe in the next few days.
“The President may sign a notice of continuation of the national emergency with respect to Zimbabwe. The continuation of this national emergency had been done yearly since 2003 and maintains sanctions implemented under Executive Orders 13288, 13391, and 13469 pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act,” Taylor said
He further indicated that the United States does not maintain sanctions against the people or the country of Zimbabwe.
“In 2003, the United States introduced targeted sanctions under Executive Order 13288 against individuals and entities undermining the democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe. More specifically, these sanctions, as well as the sanctions imposed in Executive Orders 13391 and 13469, target certain persons who, among other things, are senior officials of the Government of Zimbabwe, have participated in human rights abuses related to political repression, or have engaged in activities facilitating public corruption by senior officials.
“The sanctions do not prohibit trade with non-sanctioned individuals or entities. Unless a transaction involves a blocked individual or entity, US persons may conduct business in and trade with businesses in Zimbabwe and its people,” Taylor added.