US Admits Sanctions Not Enough, Calls On Zimbabweans To Take Charge

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE US government has admitted its sanctions were not enough to force any change of behaviour among Zimbabwean authorities and has urged ordinary locals to also take the challenge and remedy their own country’s abusive politics.

In a telephone conference from Washington, Robert. A. Destro, who is the Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour in the US government, last week admitted that imposing sanctions against the Zimbabwe government over human rights violations was not enough.

“Is sanctioning enough? No, sanctioning is not enough,” he told Zimbabwean journalists.

The top US government official had been asked whether continuing to sanction the Zimbabwe government was enough to compel the Harare administration to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law.

“At the end of the day, the responsibility to police boundaries of human rights rests with the Zimbabwean people themselves, and we respect their sovereignty. Our job is to be – to call the situation, see it and to offer whatever assistance we can that is – that’s consistent with a healthy, vibrant bilateral relationship,” Destro said.

The US Congress passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) in 2001 to impose economic sanctions on Zimbabwe in order to provide for a transition to democracy and to promote economic recovery.

ZDERA’s policy is stated to; “support the people of Zimbabwe in their struggle to effect peaceful, democratic change, achieve broad-based and equitable economic growth and restore the rule of law.”

Close to 100 senior government, current and former Zanu PF officials remain on the US sanctions list.

Last week, the US government removed businessman and former senior Zanu PF politician, Ray Kaukonde, the late former provincial ministers, Shuvai Mahofa, Sithokozile Mathuthu and the late former Senate Deputy President Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu from the list.

However, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on the same day also added former Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Presidential Guard commander Anselem Sanyatwe and State security minister Owen Ncube on its sanctions for their alleged involvement in human rights violations.

Sanyatwe is now Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Tanzania.