President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF says it is not worried by the United States’ decision yesterday to maintain sanctions against Zimbabwe, but confirmed Mugabe’s threats to retaliate.
Report by Dumisani Sibanda
The United States yesterday said it will not lift the travel and economic embargoes imposed on Mugabe’s regime over a decade ago.
Australia and the European Union, who have imposed the same punitive measures against Mugabe and his government, have said they would only reconsider their position after going through the full report by Sadc and the African Union on the disputed July 31 elections.
In a statement to NewsDay yesterday, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton said his government did not agree with the Sadc Election Observer Mission report which hailed the July 31 polls as “generally credible” and an “expression of the will of the people”.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday said his party was used to the sanctions which they had lived with for a long time and had proved that they cannot collapse a Zanu PF government. He said as such, the party was not worried about the sanctions issue and was currently concentrating on the formation of a new Zanu PF government.
Gumbo said: “Really, there is no need to keep on talking about elections. Sadc said the elections were credible and we go by that. The elections are now water under the bridge. We are now concentrating on forming the new government and working on ways to develop the country — attracting investment into the country. We have endured the sanctions and they did not bring down the government. They (US) can do what they want. ”
Asked if the government would carry out the threats of retaliation issued by Mugabe, Gumbo said: “When we take action on their companies, we will tell you.”
Mugabe too expressed skepticism over the removal of sanctions. He said during his inauguration that he doubted if the West would remove the sanctions.
“We have been under sanctions for a decade and three years,” Mugabe said. “Most likely we shall remain under these sanctions for much longer. But we have held our own.”
A few days later, at the burial of Mike Karakadzai at the national shrine, Mugabe threatened to hit back at the West if they maintained sanctions on his government.
“They should not continue to harass us, the British and Americans,” he said. “We have not done anything to their companies here. The British have several companies in this country, and we have not imposed any controls, any sanctions against them, but time will come when we will say well, tit-for-tat, you hit me I hit you.”
On Monday, the head of the Sadc Election Observer Mission Tanzanian Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Mwembe said the elections were “peaceful, free and generally credible” and urged the United States and Britain to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe.
But Wharton yesterday said while the US government acknowledged the peaceful nature of the polls it remained concerned over other aspects.
“Shortcomings in the voter registration process, access to State media, partisanship of some elements of the security sector and the lack of transparency in the voters’ roll prevent us from seeing the election as a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people,” said Wharton.
“US imposes visa restrictions on a small number of Zimbabweans, and prohibits American business transactions with those individuals. The reasons for those targeted sanctions are laid out in Executive Order 13288 of March 6, 2003, which President (Barack) Obama extended for one year on March 1, 2013.”
Wharton said the Zimbabwe Economic and Democracy Recovery Act enacted in the US in 2001 was in response to “concerns about democratic processes, respect for human rights and breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe has made progress on some of these issues since 2001, but the basic concerns remain relevant. We look forward to further progress in ensuring that all Zimbabweans have a voice in the nation’s political affairs, that the basic rights of all are respected, and that justice is available to all.”
The US diplomat, however, said his country would continue to support “rational, sustainable and equitable economic development”.