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‘US shifting goalposts on re-engagement’

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BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
Foreign Affairs deputy minister David Musabayana has alleged that the United States (US) was changing goalposts to stall government’s re-engagement efforts.

Musabayana said this in the Senate last Thursday during a question-and-answer session, where he also blamed opposition parties of thwarting President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s efforts to get sanctions imposed by the West removed.

The US renewed sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year in March this year, saying Mnangagwa’s administration had not made the necessary political and economic reforms required to foster the rule of law, democratic governance, and the protection of human rights, that would warrant removal of the targeted measures.

Musabayana claimed that opposition parties were advocating for continued imposition of sanctions.

Currently, United Nations special rapporteur Alena Douhan is on a 10-day visit in the country to assess the impact of sanctions.

“As far as the United States is concerned, at the beginning, the US got themselves unnecessarily involved in this issue. It was more or less like acting in solidarity with their kith and kin,” Musabayana said.

“Although we may not lay too much blame on them, the problem is Zimbabwean citizens who went to the United States to beg for the imposition of those sanctions so that the leadership that was in the country at that time, which was based on liberation struggle ideologies, is removed,” he said.

“Like what we did in an endeavour to normalise relations with the European Union, where we formed dialogue, we are now working on formalising and making a platform by having dialogue between Zimbabwe and the US. What is disturbing us is that right now, they are changing goalposts, but that is simply due to the fact that some of our citizens are continuously disrupting our efforts by sending bad signals.”

Relations between Zimbabwe and the US have been frosty since Washington imposed sanctions on Harare in 2001 under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act following allegations of human rights abuses and electoral theft.

Musabayana also claimed that sanctions were retribution by the US for the land reform programme, under which government took farms belonging to whites to resettle landless blacks.

“The fact that we have sanctions is not good at all. It deters potential investors because it is a bad omen to the country. As we speak, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Frederick Shava) spent three weeks in Europe discussing the issue of sanctions, normalising and restoring relations. That is what they were discussing.

“As we speak and before I came here, he was also updating me on the fact that there is good news coming from Europe, especially from the European Union.”

 Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya

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