REMARKS by former United States Department of State assistant secretary for African Affairs, Todd Moss that the US administration will not lift sanctions, though hardly surprising, is yet another reminder of the futility of the current re-engagement efforts by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Zimbabwe has been under US sanctions since 2001 after the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) was signed into law in December 21 of that year by President George W. Bush, cutting Zimbabwe from accessing international credit lines and capital.
The sanctions were in response to late President Robert Mugabe’s administration’s failure to uphold the rule of law and human rights after violent land grab by war veterans from white farmers.
Efforts by Harare, including hiring US and UK consultancy firms to have the sanctions removed have failed, with each administration renewing the measures despite Africa’s united call to have them removed.
Speaking in a Zoom interview with an online publication this week, Moss said he did not expect the removal of sanctions under the Joseph Robinette Biden Jr administration because of worsening human rights record in the Second Republic. He also pointed out that hiring public relations consultants was a waste of money.
The comments by Moss only echo what has been abundantly obvious and it is baffling that those in the corridors of power cannot comprehend this.
The United States has called for reforms and for the bringing to book of those involved in the shooting of unarmed citizens during the post-2018 election protests on August 1 that year as well as those who gunned down at least a dozen people during the January 14-16, 2019 protests over the 150% fuel price hike.
Anti-sanctions marches will not lead to the removal of sanctions. Bellowing from podiums while frothing at the mouth at the unfairness of the sanctions will not lead to the end of the restrictions. Forking out millions of dollars in scarce foreign currency to fancy international public relations firms is also an exercise in futility.
Just recently the US embassy issued a statement calling for the sanctioning of soldiers and police officers responsible for the January 2019 killings.
“Two years. When will Zimbabwe investigate, prosecute, and convict government security forces accused of rape, torture, and killing civilians in January 2019?” the US embassy queried in a statement,’ “Two years is too long to seek justice, answers, accountability.”
The arrest of those who oppose the government on flimsy charges who include MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere, and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono as well as the clampdown on protestors is unlikely to aid the push by Mnangagwa’s administration to have the sanctions removed.
Zanu PF has signalled its intention to engage the new US administration, but without reforms, however, these efforts, like all the others in the past, will come to naught.