By Leopold Munhende
IF Zimbabwe demonstrates unwavering adherence to its 2013 constitution and fully implements the charter, United States sanctions against the country will be removed, Washington’s ambassador to Harare has said.
“The average person in Zimbabwe has a right to go about their lives without a fear of abuse or repression and I think increasing the respect of human rights is a great priority for my government,” said ambassador Brian Nichols on Tuesday.
“If Zimbabwe, as a nation, fully implements the 2013 constitution that will resolve the sanctions issue and government has already expressed its commitment to reforms, so if it manages that will resolve the sanctions issue.”
Nichols also revealed that the US was willing to offer technical assistance to parliament and any arm of government in the realignment of 27 laws to the constitution.
The US imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 and 2003 citing gross human rights abuses, undermining of democratic processes and corruption under then president Robert Mugabe.
The sanctions regime, known as ZIDERA, has been regularly renewed since with the Zanu PF government blaming them for Zimbabwe’s economic problems.
Mugabe was toppled by a military coup last November and the new Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government had hoped the sanctions would be removed but the US renewed them this year.
“ZIDERA was amended in 2018 and is a road map for reforms that many people in Zimbabwe have been calling for,” Nichols said Tuesday.
“(These) include the right to free speech, democratic elections, private sector led growth, the ability to buy and sell land – that is what ZIDERA talks of and the accountability for past human rights abuses.”
Regardless, the US will continue working together with the Zimbabwean government, he said.
“We are looking forward to cooperating with Zimbabwe and to help Zimbabweans to deal with the difficulties they have, economic growth, development, health, education, issues of environmental degradation and hopefully we are looking forward to creating a more democratic and prosperous society,” he said.
“The commitment of both President Mnangagwa and the platform of the MDC Alliance call for profound changes in Zimbabwe and we are informed that those promises will be enacted.”
He added; “The selection of the new Cabinet is quite positive. I have had the pleasure to meet the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Oppah Muchinguri this morning and we had a constructive conversation.”