Zimbabwe, US disagrees over sanctions

A war of words is brewing between Zimbabwe and the United States following the addition of State Security minister Owen Ncube and former Presidential Guard commander, Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe to the latter’s economic sanctions list.

Almost at the same time as Ncube and Sanyatwe were slapped with economic sanctions by the US Department of Treasury, the State Department released the Zimbabwe 2019 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, where it decried unlawful or arbitrary killings of civilians by security forces, torture and arbitrary detention by security forces, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, and arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy.

The US noted that there were serious problems with the independence of the judiciary, that there existed “the worst forms of government restrictions on free expression, press, and the internet, including violence, threats of violence, or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, censorship”.

“Impunity remained a problem,” the US lamented.

“The government took very few steps to identify or investigate officials who committed human rights abuses, and there were no reported arrests or prosecutions of such persons.”

Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo said America’s apporach to implementing sanctions was not even handed, but maintained that Zimbabwe will continue to engage in dialogue with that country.

The US is the biggest bilateral donor to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe insists that US sanctions are hampering the country’s economic turnaround prospects, but the western nation says failure to implement key reforms and corruption by the elite are at the centre of the African nation’s woes.