A UNITED States country travel advisory lists Zimbabwe as a “high-threat” destination affecting the interests of the world’s superpower. This comes shortly after the British government described Zimbabwe as a risky business destination.
The US also noted human rights violations and high prevalence of anti-Western sentiment in the country.
Already, there is a standing US Department of State Travel Advisory warning its citizens against travelling to Zimbabwe citing COVID-19. The advisory also warns US residents in the country to exercise caution, citing crime and civil unrest.
A latest Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) country report released on Tuesday also notes that Harare remains a high-threat destination for crime and potential political violence and civil unrest over the harsh economic climate.
The OSAC was created in 1985 under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to promote security co-operation between American privatesector interests worldwide and the US Department of State.
“Harare as being a high-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official US government interests,” the report read.
“The US Department of State has included a Crime ‘C’ indicator on the travel advisory for Zimbabwe, indicating that there may be widespread violent crime and/or organised crime present in the country, and/or that local law enforcement may have limited ability to respond to serious crimes.”
Of late, the country has witnessed a spate of violent armed robberies.
Police have been tough in responding to the armed robberies, fatally shooting some suspects in the process in a bid to tame the vice.
Government often projects a Zimbabwe-issafe destination in the “Zimbabwe is open for business” drive, but the OSAC travel advisory argues otherwise.
“The US Department of State has assessed Harare as being a high-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official US government interests,” the report adds.
“There is considerable risk of political violence in Harare, particularly considering Zimbabwe’s deteriorating economic conditions. Peaceful demonstrations have repeatedly been violently dispersed by the police and or the military.”
The OSAC notes that Zimbabwe is a low-threat destination for terrorism directed at or affecting US government interests.
“The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, although other sections of the law effectively weaken these prohibitions. The government enforces laws in conflict with the constitution. Security forces arbitrarily arrest and detain persons, particularly political and civil society activists…,” the report added.
Meanwhile, the 41st Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government, hosted in Lilongwe, Malawi has once again called for the unconditional removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
“The summit reiterated its call (for) the unconditional removal of sanctions imposed on the Republic of Zimbabwe, and supports Zimbabwe in the ongoing socio-economic strengthening efforts,” a communiqué issued by the summit on Wednesday said.
The SADC Heads of State and Government Summit held in Tanzania in August 2019, declared October 25 as the annual day to stand in solidarity with Zimbabwe, a day on which SADC member states collectively voice their “disapproval and condemnation” of sanctions against Zimbabwe through various activities and platforms “until sanctions are lifted”.
The day was declared a public holiday in Zimbabwe.
The US and the EU have maintained sanctions and financial and travel restrictions on Zimbabwe, which currently apply to Zimbabwean officials including President Emmerson Mnangagwa, with the US and EU citing as reasons for the measures alleged human rights violations amid troubled elections, and the seizure of white-owned farms.
The sanctions target both specific individuals and companies.
The two-day summit held in Lilongwe was attended by Botswana President Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi; Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Félix Tshisekedi Tshilombo; Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina, Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera; Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi;, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa; Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan; and Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The summit was also attended by Namibia’s Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba; Eswatini Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini; Lesotho Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu; Angolan Minister of External Relations Tete Antonio; Zambia’s ambassador to Botswana Mwansa Kapeya; and Comoros Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Dhoihir Dhoulkamal.
The summit elected Chakwera as chairperson of the SADC, and the DRC’s Tshisekedi as incoming chairperson of the regional bloc.
The summit also elected Ramaphosa as chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, while Namibia’s President Hage Geingob becomes incoming chairperson of the organ.
“Summit commended the people and the government of the Republic of Zambia, for conducting successful elections, and congratulated His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema for winning the elections,” the communiqué said.
“Summit thanked His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu for his leadership and contribution to SADC development and integration during his tenure as president of Zambia and for nobly accepting the results of the 2021 presidential elections in the Republic of Zambia.”