SANCTIONS slapped on President Robert Mugabe and senior Zanu PF officials by the United States (US) and the European Union in 2002 are benefiting Mugabe and his inner circle as they resort to unorthodox ways of conducting business under the guise of “sanctions busting”.
Reporting of Phillip Chidavaenzi/Elias Mambo
This was said by the new US ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton during his first meeting with editors from different media houses in Harare yesterday.
The envoy admitted that some blacklisted individuals had become richer despite the embargo.
He said although there was no concrete evidence to that effect, it could not be ruled out that the sanctioned individuals employed irregular methods to line their pockets.
“Sanctions were targeted at a few people who were involved in gross human rights abuses as well as people who violated the rule of law,” he said.
“Although there is no evidence that the targeted few people were enriched by sanctions, reports of the missing $2 billion (from diamonds’ revenue) points to lack of transparency by those in government,” he said.
Wharton, however, said during his tenure in the next three years, he would work to improve the bilateral relations between the two countries through marketing Zimbabwe as a ripe investment destination.
“My wish is to help portray Zimbabwe as a place to invest, but I cannot do this alone. We need to work together to paint a clear, accurate and confidence-building picture of Zimbabwe so that we can move beyond the sanctions,” he said.
The US ambassador said Zimbabwe provided rich business opportunities which needed to be capitalised on through democratic constitution-making and electoral processes.
“Zimbabwe has plenty of business opportunities as long as there is political will from Zimbabweans themselves like positive movements in the constitution-making process, holding of a referendum and credible elections,” he said.
Wharton said re-elected US President Barack Obama was concerned about Zimbabwe, but remained optimistic about its future.
The US slapped sanctions on the country through the Zimbabwe Democracy and Recovery Act in 2002 after adjudging that the 2002 presidential poll that saw the re-election of Mugabe, were fraudulent.