United States President Joe Biden has signed an extension of American sanctions on Zimbabwe, citing what claimed “absence of progress on the most fundamental reforms needed to ensure the rule of law, democratic governance, and the protection of human rights”.
Biden extended sanctions on identified Zimbabwean officials over what he called ‘deliberate breakdown in rule of law in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, he also noted that actions and policies of certain members of the government continue to pose an extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the US.
In a letter to the US Congress, Mr Biden said 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 said.
Despite Mr Biden’s claims that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has not made the necessary political and economic reforms that would warrant terminating the existing targeted sanctions programme, Zimbabwe has, since the inception of the Second Republic, embarked on a vast transformation trajectory.
The Second Republic has been pushing a consistent agenda of engagement and re-engagement and opening a new chapter of diplomatic ties especially with countries that were hitherto hostile to Zimbabwe.
Moreover, there is recorded progress on reforms in areas such as security, the economy, media and justice delivery.
Among the notable reforms is the creation of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) platform, which is an engagement platform that brings together Government and opposition political parties, a first for Zimbabwe after many years.
Repealing of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Public Order and Security Act is also a major reform in the media, coupled with the licensing of six new independent television stations. The opening of the airwaves has been applauded as key towards promoting transparency.
On various fora, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for the unconditional lifting of US sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The President’s call for the removal of sanctions has received support from regional blocs such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union. The SADC executive secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, says that other SADC countries were feeling the heat of sanctions imposed on Harare.
“The sanctions have caused suffering among Zimbabweans and continue to have far-reaching effects on Zimbabwe and the entire SADC region. The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, as was passed by the United States Congress in 2001 and the subsequent amendments, is particularly harmful to the economy of Zimbabwe and [the] welfare of Zimbabweans.
“The act punishes Americans who support multilateral funding to Zimbabwe and discourages doing business with Zimbabwe’s strategic economic entities. This has left our sister republic without external support for capital projects,” said Tax.
“It is commendable that Zimbabwe is now among the top five doing-business reformers in Africa and top 20 improvers on the ease of doing business scores in the world. Sanctions must be lifted and must be lifted now, there is no justification for their continuation at all.”
The United States Congress in 2001 passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), which restricts US support for multilateral financing to Zimbabwe.
As a result, Zimbabwe’s economic growth has stalled, while ordinary Zimbabweans continue to suffer and face challenges in areas such as social services delivery, access to medical drugs and participation in international trade.