THE United States government has announced new travel restrictions for Zimbabweans linked to an orgy of political violence and human rights abuses that blighted the southern African country before and after the August 23 and 24 general elections.


The Visa Restriction Policy for Undermining Democracy in Zimbabwe comes after the opposition disputed the election results citing several irregularities including voter intimidation, late delivery of voting material, and manipulation of results in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party.


These undermined the political process as was later confirmed in the SADC and European Union observer mission reports.


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In a statement on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the new travel restrictions were targeted at “individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Zimbabwe”.


“Anyone who undermines the democratic process in Zimbabwe—including in the lead-up to, during, and following Zimbabwe’s August 2023 elections—may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy,”said Blinken.


“Such acts may include manipulating or rigging the electoral process; disenfranchising voters or preventing individuals from exercising their right to vote; excluding members of the political opposition from electoral processes; restricting the ability of civil society organizations (CSOs) to operate and engage in democratic, governance, or human rights related activities; or intimidation of voters, election observers, or CSOs through threats or acts of physical violence.


“They may also include engaging in corrupt acts, including bribery, that undermine the electoral process; interfering with the independent operation of the judiciary during its adjudication of electoral cases; or abusing or violating human rights in Zimbabwe.”


While family members of the said individual may be affected by the restrictions, Blinken added that the measures would not apply to other citizens.


“The visa restriction policy will apply to specific individuals involved in these acts, and is not directed at the Zimbabwean people.


The United States supports Zimbabweans’ aspirations to have free and fair elections that reflect the will of the people and strengthen democracy, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights,” he said.