Targeted sanctions extended

US: Obama extends Zimbabwe sanctions (targeted travel embargoes and asset freezes) by: Staff Reporter

14 January 2017

President Barak Obama
OUTGOING US President Barack Obama put beyond any doubt his abhorrence for President Robert Mugabe’s leadership style last Friday when his outgoing administration extended its (targeted) sanctions against the Harare regime by another year.

Zimbabwe’s opposition welcomed the development but a Zanu PF minister scorned the move, describing it as inconsequential from an Obama government nearing its end.

Among the countries also targeted for a hostile goodbye by Obama were known American rivals such as Cuba and Russia.

The sanctions were extended in conformity with the Washington’s national emergency policies aimed at dealing with perceived "threats" in Cuba and Venezuela, along with Iran, Libya, Ukraine, Zimbabwe and countries Washington claims "support terrorism."

“It is a very good move but sadly these sanctions have not had the impact that was expected by the people because our understanding was that these sanctions were a travel ban but you will find that Mugabe is all over New York,” said MDC-T deputy spokesperson and Bulawayo East legislator Thabitha Khumalo.

“It is a good move but at the end of the day you would find that as Zimbabweans we have not benefitted.”

PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume also saw nothing wrong with the US government extending sanctions on Zimbabwe.

“If Zimbabwe wants to engage with the community of nations, to be friends with the world, it knows what to do; it has to adjust certain behaviours, laws and attitudes towards international obligations and treaties and once it does that, we will be welcomed in the community of nations.

“But as it is, we are not taking any steps to try and behave like a normal country. So, America has a right to choose its friends and enemies depending on its own norms and standards that it seeks to follow,” Mafume said.

No surprise

Jealous Mawarire, spokesperson for Joice Mujuru's ZimPF, said the decision to extend sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies was not surprising.

"This is not surprising because the human rights record of Mugabe's regime has not improved over the years. If anything, the regime is growing more and more repressive," he said.

The US in 2001 enacted the controversial Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) in attempts to force a change of behaviour by the Harare regime.

The sanctions were imposed at the height of invasions on white owned land by President Mugabe’s militant followers, poll theft and rights abuses.

The travel embargo and asset freeze has however, been criticised for failing to achieve its objectives as the Zanu PF regime continues on a brutal path, the latest being assaults, arbitrary arrests and abductions on critics.

The sanctions, which have been reviewed annually, targeted members of President Mugabe’s inner circle, the military top brass and associated companies accused of undermining democracy in the country.

Looking to Trump

Former Information Minister and now Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo poured scorn on the latest decision by Washington to extend its sanctions.

“Obama? Is that the name of a lame duck or what?” Moyo quipped.

“A new (Donald) Trump administration is taking over (this) week and that presents an opportunity for the US and Zimbabwe to reset their relationship and re-engage in pursuit of mutual interests.

“This calls for a new pragmatism. It’s better to be optimistic about that prospect than to worry about Obama whose approach to Africa has been shameful and disastrous.”

Moyo, as then information minister, is also among President Mugabe’s close officials who were slapped with a travel ban.

However, the Zanu PF led government has often sent conflicting signals around sanctions depending on the moment.

One hand, Zanu PF has rubbished the sanctions, dismissing them as inconsequential due to their failure to force a change of administration in Harare.

On another hand, they have conveniently used the yoke of sanctions as the main reason behind the Harare administration’s monumental leadership failures.