HARARE — President Emmerson Mnangagwa says the United States should remove targeted sanctions imposed on some Zanu PF officials as the country has lost its credibility of being called an icon of democracy, following an invasion of the U.S Capitol on Wednesday by supporters of President Donald Trump, crying foul over alleged electoral fraud.
In a tweet, Mnangagwa, who is currently on a month-long vacation, said, “Last year, President Trump extended painful economic sanctions placed on Zimbabwe, citing concerns about Zimbabwe’s democracy. Yesterday’s events showed that the U.S. has no moral right to punish another nation under the guise of upholding democracy. These sanctions must end.”
The United States has maintained sanctions on 83 individuals and 37 companies or organizations linked to people that have either committed human rights abuses or engaged in corruption.
In another tweet, Mnangagwa congratulated President-elect Joseph Biden on his confirmation by Congress as the 46th President of the United States.
“Zimbabwe is, as it always has been, ready to work together as friends and partners with the U.S for the benefit of both our peoples.”
His tweets, which attracted over 2,200 retweets and almost 700 comments, were supported by some Zimbabweans and criticized by others, who told him to focus on domestic issues like thousands of local people stuck at the Beitbridge border post intending to go to South Africa and the COVID-19 crisis.
One of his backers, Effort Maguta, urged Mnangagwa to take drastic measures against the United States. “Your Excellency, let’s also place the United States under harsh economic sanctions!”
But others had no kind words for the president. Andile Moyez said, “U.S should add more sanctions to the evil leaders of Zimbabwe who think they’re Gods. Why talk of sanctions …”
Not to be left out, another follower of Mnangagwa’s Twitter thread, Simba Mukute, took a swipe at the president.
“… Stop trying your false equivalence. I’m sure you have noticed the strength of their institutions, especially the courts against capture and intimidation. Musadaro!”
Tatenda Kajau was taken aback by Mangagwa’s suggestion that targeted sanctions should be removed. “So the sanctions should just end because some people have marched on their Capitol. Would our citizens do the same in Zimbabwe without many deaths? Just fix the economy, secure human rights and allow our people to speak.
“I am very patriotic. I believe we have a moral obligation to keep the sanctity of life, ensure human rights are observed and hold everyone accountable for their actions. Leaders should make life better for their people and not be narcissists.”
Tendai Zinyama, who attached a video on his tweet showing some Zimbabweans illegally crossing the flooded Limpopo River, said, “The pain you feel with targeted sanctions is the same pain majority Zimbabweans feel under your iron rule of using a hammer to solve all problems.”
Some reacted with mixed feelings to Mangagwa’s warm reception to President-elect Biden’s election.
Linda Tsungirirai Masarira, leader of the Labour, Economists and African Democrats party, warned Mangagwa to stay away from Biden.
“Remember that Biden is an expansionist. I don’t see his administration removing sanctions on Zimbabwe. It is better we focus on sanction busting measures than building castles in the air. Americans will always be Americans, they push their interests first. Let us put Zimbabwe first.”
America and its allies imposed targeted sanctions on top Zanu PF officials following allegations of election fraud and human rights abuses.
In a series of tweets Mnangagwa said:
Last year, President Trump extended painful economic sanctions placed on Zimbabwe, citing concerns about Zimbabwe’s democracy.
Yesterday’s events showed that the U.S. has no moral right to punish another nation under the guise of upholding democracy. These sanctions must end.
— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) January 7, 2021
I’d like to again congratulate President-elect @JoeBiden on his confirmation as the 46th President of the United States.
Zimbabwe is, as it always has been, ready to work together as friends and partners with the U.S for the benefit of both our peoples.
— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) January 7, 2021
The outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump on last year extended by one year sanctions against Zimbabwe saying that the new government’s policies continue to pose an “unusual and extraordinary” threat to U.S. foreign policy.
The renewal was condemned by the South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa who called for the sanctions to be lifted to give the country a chance to recover from its economic crisis.
“The actions and policies of these persons continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States,” Trump said in a notice announcing the extension, adding: “I am continuing for (one) year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288.”
The renewal comes despite calls by African leaders, including South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, for the sanctions to be lifted to give the country a chance to recover from its economic crisis.
Trump administration officials had said the sanctions will remain until the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa changes Zimbabwe’s laws restricting media freedom and allowing protests.
According to U.S. officials, there are 141 entities and individuals in Zimbabwe, including Mnangagwa and long-time former president Robert Mugabe, currently under U.S. sanctions.
Mnangagwa has called for the sanctions to be lifted against the ZANU-PF ruling party, top military figures and some government-owned firms, which were imposed during Mugabe’s rule over what the United States said were human rights violations and undermining of the democratic process.
In 2002 and 2003, the United States imposed targeted measures on the Government of Zimbabwe, including financial and visa sanctions against selected individuals, a ban on transfers of defence items and services, and a suspension of non-humanitarian government-to-government assistance.