US flags Zimbabwe as high-threat destination

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BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

A UNITED States country travel advisory lists Zimbabwe as a “high-threat” destination affecting the interests of the world’s superpower. This comes shortly after the British government described Zimbabwe as a risky business destination.

The US also noted human rights violations and high prevalence of anti-Western sentiment in the country.

Already, there is a standing US Department of State Travel Advisory warning its citizens against travelling to Zimbabwe citing COVID-19. The advisory also warns US residents in the country to exercise caution, citing crime and civil unrest.

A latest Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) country report released on Tuesday also notes that Harare remains a high-threat destination for crime and potential political violence and civil unrest over the harsh economic climate.

The OSAC was created in 1985 under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to promote security co-operation between American private-sector interests worldwide and the US Department of State.

“Harare as being a high-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official US government interests,” the report read.

“The US Department of State has included a Crime ‘C’ indicator on the travel advisory for Zimbabwe, indicating that there may be widespread violent crime and/or organised crime present in the country, and/or that local law enforcement may have limited ability to respond to serious crimes.”

Of late, the country has witnessed a spate of violent armed robberies.

Police have been tough in responding to the armed robberies, fatally shooting some suspects in the process in a bid to tame the vice.

Government often projects a Zimbabwe-is-safe destination in the “Zimbabwe is open for business” drive, but the OSAC travel advisory argues otherwise.

“The US Department of State has assessed Harare as being a high-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official US government interests,” the report adds.

“There is considerable risk of political violence in Harare, particularly considering Zimbabwe’s deteriorating economic conditions. Peaceful demonstrations have repeatedly been violently dispersed by the police and or the military.”

The OSAC notes that Zimbabwe is a low-threat destination for terrorism directed at or affecting US government interests.

“The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, although other sections of the law effectively weaken these prohibitions. The government enforces laws in conflict with the constitution. Security forces arbitrarily arrest and detain persons, particularly political and civil society activists…,” the report added.

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