TOP United States diplomat, Christopher Hunnicutt yesterday said the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) was amended to push for quick implementation of key economic and political reforms.
By Tinotenda Munyukwi
Hunnicutt also said Zidera was not specifically targeted at President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
Speaking during a public forum organised by Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) in Harare yesterday, Hunnicutt, a senior economic officer at the US embassy in Harare, maintained that Zidera was meant to improve Zimbabwe’s economic and political environment regardless of who was in power. He said its existence had been extended after a lengthy assessment which justified its amendment.
“When Zidera was created, it was such that it can be removed once government has made reforms to improve the economy, human rights conditions and its democratic State,” Hunnicutt said. “Zidera simply creates an outline on how the government of Zimbabwe can improve its policies and the fact that it was amended recently is not necessarily targeting this specific regime, but I think that it is meant to just make sure we want to see these changes being made.”
After being passed by the US Congress and signed into law by former President George Bush in 2001, current US President Donald Trump last week signed an amendment of the Act for an extended five years. This attracted widespread criticism, especially from the current political establishment with Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo, who warned that Zidera would economically hurt ordinary citizens. Hunnicutt, however, said it was possible for the legislation to be repealed once Zimbabwe addressed the areas of improvement as highlighted by the Act to the satisfaction of the authorities in Washington.
He commended the Mnangagwa administration for repealing the indigenisation law, but said there were other grey areas which still necessitated the existence of Zidera including the hosting of free, fair and credible elections.
Hunnicutt also said that it was important to separate Zidera from targeted sanctions as the two existed separately and should not be misconstrued for each other.
“To us we separate the two, Zidera and these targeted sanctions that focus on individuals and certain entities. Numbers have gone down because we now have about 56 entities and 85 individuals still on the targeted sanctions list and these will constantly go under review,” he said.
Zidera was passed and ratified by the US Congress to provide for a transition to democracy and to promote economic recovery in Zimbabwe and its conditions continue to set the tone for the country to fully re-engage with the US.