PRESIDENT Donald Trump on Monday renewed sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by another year, rebuffing regional leaders who are calling for an end to the sanctions.
Zimbabwe’s neighbours, including South Africa, have called for sanctions against the Sadc state to be lifted.
The US first imposed the measures in 2003 and renewed them in 2005 and 2008 under America’s International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Trump said Zimbabwe had not implemented promised reforms. The extension effectively rules out the possibility of a US bailout.
In a letter to the US Senate on Monday, Trump accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of running a flawed election, in reference to the contested July 2018 poll that popular opposition leader Nelson Chamisa claims he won.
The sanctions follow Mnangagwa’s recent military crackdown on protests over a crippling fuel hike. At least 17 people were reportedly killed.
Trump’s strongly worded letter said the actions of the government of Zimbabwe continued ‘to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions” and “to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the US.’
The US president said that while Zimbabwe’s elections in 2018 had offered an opportunity to turn the corner it had failed to do so.
‘While the election itself was an improvement over past elections, post-election violence, credible reports of intimidation and clear bias of the electoral commission kept it from being fully free and fair,’ he said.
Mnangagwa’s government has yet to implement the political and economic overhaul needed to rebuild its reputation within the international community and dramatically improve its relationship with the US, Trump said.
‘I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in executive order 13288 with respect to Zimbabwe and to maintain in force the sanctions to respond to this threat.’
Zimbabwean deputy information minister Energy Mutodi condemned the sanctions.
‘US sanctions on Zimbabwe are a sign of irresponsibility and cruelty on the part of the Donald Trump administration as the sanctions hit the poor hardest. The US hostile attitude towards other countries does not justify its claim for civilisation and the rationality of its leaders,’ Mutodi said.
The MDC condemned Mnangagwa’s government for ongoing arrests of its officials. Twelve of its MPs were arrested in the crackdown. ‘The public has lost confidence in the justice delivery system because of such conduct, the judiciary must remain independent as it is the soul of a constitutional democracy.’