By Pearl Matibe in washington DC, US
The United States has placed on its sanctions list a former Zimbabwe National Army Presidential Guard commander and the country’s ambassador designate to Tanzania, Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe who commanded troops accused of killing six civilians after a disputed election on August 1 last year.
US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo publicly designated Sanyatwe under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related
Programs Appropriations Act (Div F, PL 116-6), due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights.
The US also publicly designated his spouse Chido Machona.
Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign officials have been involved in significant
corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members were ineligible to enter the US.
The law also requires the Department of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and immediate family members.
Sanyatwe’s listing signals US frustration over the lack of accountability in the killings in the capital, Harare.
The ambassador-designate is the first to be sanctioned over the crackdown and the first official listed since the fall of long-time ex-ruler Robert Mugabe in
Soldiers were deployed to suppress a protest against delays in announcing results of Zimbabwe’s first election without Mugabe on the ballot.
To date, Zimbabwe has not arrested the killer soldiers involved in the August 1, 2018 shootings. Furthermore, there has been no accountability for the
excessive use of force by the army on civilians in January and February this year, which reportedly resulted in at least 17 deaths, thousands victims of
violence, torture or rape, and over 1 000 arrests.
The US urged the government to hold accountable those officials responsible for human rights violations and abuses in Zimbabwe.
Yesterday, US ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols also emphasised that it was “equally troubling that Defence deputy minister and Zanu PF political commissar
Victor Matemadanda threatened to use soldiers ‘trained to kill’ against protesters only a few days ago”.
Meanwhile, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has said steps should be taken to bring to book soldiers who shot protesters last August.
In a statement to commemorate the killing of six civilians by soldiers during post-election violence in Harare last year, Chamisa said it was sad that a year
on, justice has not been delivered.
“Even the Motlanthe Commission, with all its limitations, found that the conduct of the State was unjustified and disproportionate,” Chamisa said.
“However, those responsible have not been held to account. We must enforce measures to redress this grave injustice. What is disheartening is the plight of the
victims who have received no reparation. Victims of orchestrated brutality must be compensated. Justice must be done.”
Six people were shot dead by the military on August 1 last year when soldiers stepped in to “restore order” following violent protests by opposition supporters
over what they described as electoral fraud by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, under international pressure, appointed a commission of enquiry into the killings led by former South African President Kgalema
Motlanthe which recommended that the killer solders should be made accountable. However, a year on, no one has been arrested in connection with the killings.
“After the departure of Mr Mugabe, nothing has changed in Zimbabwe. The old cannot renew. The past cannot be the future. The past cannot be renovated. In
short, it is now clear for all to see that, concerning the style of leadership; those in the State have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing,” Chamisa said.
“The August 1 fallen citizens were victims of a system which devours its own children. The brutality is fuelled by a long-standing culture of impunity. If the
nation had punished perpetrators, there would be no incentive to commit violence in the name of power and politics.”
A Zimbabwean political activist based in the United Kingdom, Netsai Makarichi also called on Mnangagwa to deal with the rogue soldiers.
She told NewsDay that the Mnangagwa administration had failed the nation by not bringing to book the August 1, 2018 culprits.
“The President is unmoved by the incident. For how long can we guess that action against the killer soldiers will be taken?” she asked. Makarichi said
Mnangagwa’s inaction showed insincerity about the affected families and Zimbabweans at large.
“His silence on such a pertinent issue resembles dishonesty to the families who lost their beloved ones as well as Zimbabweans in general. Regrettably, the
Motlanthe commission of inquiry was a façade as its recommendations remain on paper,” she said.
“It is surprising that Zanu PF is more concerned about the attack on (Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso) SB Moyo here (in London), but forgetting about the
innocent civilians who lost their lives.”
She said Mnangagwa “must resign because he has failed the victims and the nation”, adding justice must be served by arresting the August 1 killer soldiers.
Additional reporting by Everson Mushava and Garikai Tunhira