‘Mnangagwa chasing wrong priorities’ – US Senator

Senator Jim Risch

WASHINGTON, D.C., United States – President Emmerson Mnangagwa is misdirecting his energy lobbying western governments and blaming Zimbabwe’s economic crisis on United sanctions, said Senator Jim Risch, the chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Instead, Mnangagwa should implement “sweeping promises” he made upon taking office last year which included holding members of the military accountable for shooting and killing unarmed civilians.

Speaking on the anniversary of the August 1, 2018, massacre in central Harare in which six people died, Senator Risch said Mnangagwa had to end a culture of impunity which also saw at least 18 people being killed during fuel protests in January this year.

“As Zimbabweans mark this sombre anniversary, we are reminded of all that can go wrong when regime preservation comes ahead of real democratic change,” Senator Risch said.

“Zimbabwe is facing a worse political and economic crisis today than in 2017 when long-time ruler Robert Mugabe was forced from power by the country’s military. Today, citizens are suffering under staggering inflation, regular fuel and water shortages, rolling blackouts, a failing currency, and an increasingly repressive political environment.

“President Mnangagwa’s efforts to cleanse his government’s image abroad and to convince the Zimbabwean people that their economic woes are the fault of very targeted U.S. sanctions are the wrong priorities. These sanctions are on individuals who violated the rule of law and caused this political and economic chaos.

“President Mnangagwa should instead focus on delivering the Zanu PF government’s long-promised reforms. He should also uphold his commitment to hold to account those in the military leadership responsible for ordering the shooting of unarmed civilians last August, and since then.”

On Thursday, the United States State Department imposed a travel ban on retired Presidential Guard commander Lieutenant General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe and his wife for “his involvement in gross violations of human rights, and in particular his role in the violent crackdown against unarmed Zimbabweans during the August 1, 2018, post-election protests.”

Mnangagwa has hired two lobbyists in the United States at a cost of over US$1 million in a bid to get sanctions lifted.

His government condemned the US move against Sanyatwe, who is now the ambassador to Tanzania.

A spokesman, while maintaining that US sanctions are “illegal” said “any escalation of the same is counterproductive”.