US sanctions blow for Mnangagwa; Trump says Harare still a threat

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US President Donald Trump has extended sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year, saying the Harare administration remains a threat to Washington’s foreign policy.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been shuttling the region and dispatching envoys to Europe to consolidate international acceptance of his government after taking over power through military assistance last November.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last week visited London and Paris while Mnangagwa took his regional charm offensive to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

However, while seemingly making progress in improving long frayed relations with the European Union which has since lifted most of its sanctions, Harare is yet to impress Washington.

Introduced, supposedly to reign in former President Robert Mugabe for gross human rights abuses and electoral fraud, the sanctions have been renewed annually since 2003 despite spirited advocacy against them by Harare.

President Trump’s administration confirmed last Friday that it is extending its sanctions for another year after hearing evidence from Zimbabwean opposition politicians and rights activists.

The development was confirmed a circular titled: Notice of the President’s Continuation of the National Emergency with respect to Zimbabwe.

The notice reads; “On March 6, 2003, by Executive Order 13288, the President declared a national emergency and blocked the property of certain persons, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706), to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions.

“These actions and policies had contributed to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Zimbabwe, to politically motivated violence and intimidation in that country, and to political and economic instability in the southern African region.

“The actions and policies of these persons continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared on March 6, 2003, and the measures adopted on that date … to deal with that emergency must continue in effect beyond March 6, 2018.

“Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288.”

Former president Robert Mugabe regularly used international meetings to campaign for the removal of the sanctions which he blamed for Zimbabwe’s economic collapse.

The veteran leader rejected allegations or rights abuse and electoral fraud, insisting that Zimbabwe was being punished for its controversial land reforms.