The new United States President Joseph Biden has turned his back on President Mnangagwa’s administration approaching Congress to extend sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in 2003.
The US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe against ex-President Robert Mugabe’s government for gross human rights abuse include failure to respect property rights among other issues.
However, President Mnangagwa, who toppled Mugabe in November 2017 made it a priority to engage the US and the rest of the Western world including the European Union to restore relations.
Biden’s move to extend the sanctions also flies in the face of recently appointed Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Fredrick Shava who pledged to up the tempo in the re-engagement efforts.
Shava is a former Zimbabwean Ambassador to Washngton and, recently, to the United Nations.
According to the Letter on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Zimbabwe, Biden cited Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)).
The Act provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date.
“In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288 of March 6, 2003, with respect to the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions is to continue in effect beyond March 6, 2021,” Biden wrote in his letter to Congress.
The US President said President Mnangagwa has failed to make the necessary political and economic reforms that would warrant terminating the existing targeted sanctions program.
“Throughout the last year, government security services routinely intimidated and violently repressed citizens, including members of opposition political parties, union members, and journalists.
“The absence of progress on the most fundamental reforms needed to ensure the rule of law, democratic governance, and the protection of human rights leaves Zimbabweans vulnerable to ongoing repression and presents a continuing threat to peace and security in the region.”
Biden said actions and policies of some members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.
“Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288, as amended, with respect to Zimbabwe and to maintain in force the sanctions to respond to this threat,” he said.
Speaking after his swearing-in recently, Shava said continue working hard on re engagement and engagement with Zimbabwe’s all weather friends to boost trade relations and promote exports in line with the mantra of the Second Republic.
He said efforts will also be made to engage counties that Zimbabwe did not have smooth relations with as a result of the land reform programme.