Removal of US. Executive Orders on Zimbabwean sanctions, the Magnitsky Act implications

Joe Biden signing executive orders
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ON the 4th of March, 2024, Zimbabwe crossed an important hurdle with the removal of the executive order sanctions that have been crippling the country for the past 21 years.

By Rutendo Matinyarare

Despite this great achievement, we have heard many anti-Zimbabwean activists purporting that the removal of executive order sanctions on the country is not a significant development because of the remaining ZDERA sanctions and the recently added Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, upon eight individuals and two companies, which they purport have the same effect as the executive order sanction.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as the removal of the executive order sanctions on Zimbabwe is tantamount to the removal of 99% of all sanctions on Zimbabwe: government, municipalities, parastatals, investors, entrepreneurs, civilians, business, banks, insurers, industry, mines and farms.

More importantly, the removal of the executive order sanctions comes with the reversal of the national emergency declared upon Zimbabwe. Through this declaration, the U.S. President and his security departments, designated Zimbabwe an unusual and unequivocal threat to the United States of America’s economic, foreign policy, and security interests.

This declaration meant that Zimbabwe became an enemy of the United States, this necessitated the neutralization of this threat by either economic or military weapons. And as we know, the U.S. government chose to deploy the economic weapons of “war” and “defense” in the form of the IEEPA (International Emergency Economic Powers Act).

So, in short, the declaration made by Joe Biden yesterday, cancelling the national emergency upon Zimbabwe, alongside IEEPA and the three executive order sanctions, means Zimbabwe now ceases to be an enemy of the United States, and because the country ceases to be a threat to US interests, the “war” and “defense” sanctions imposed by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act now fall away.

The implication of this is huge because it means that now, the U.S. is no longer at war (economic war) with Zimbabwe, in a manner where, if the economic weapons had failed to neutralize the threat that Zimbabwe was perceived to pose, there was a prospect that the U.S. President could inform Congress that Zimbabwe’s threat under the use of economic weapons (IEEPA) had not subsided, and thus he was now declaring another national emergency to put boots on the ground to neutralize the threat with the only other option: military action.

What many Zimbabweans have failed to appreciate is that the national emergency on Zimbabwe was a declaration of war and was just one declaration and one notification to Congress, away from invasion. This is the reason why the country (Zimbabwe) was almost invaded thrice by the U.S. and NATO in the last 23 years since sanctions were imposed. Albeit, now, with the removal of the national emergency, that threat of invasion has been significantly diminished, overnight.

This is especially telling when you consider that since the National Emergency Act was enacted in 1979, 86% of all national emergencies declared specifically in aggression upon nations by the U.S., have all degenerated from sanctions into either civil unrest, CIA sponsored civil destabilization, military intervention and forced regime change within the second and third decade of sanctions. Suffice to say, a few of those countries fell in less than a decade after they were designated threats to the United States. This just goes to prove that US executive order sanctions, in most cases turned into the destruction of the sanctioned nation.


1. It has removed 99.9% of the sanctions on Zimbabweans and left illegal #MagnitskySanctions on just ten individuals and two companies. These illegal sanctions can be challenged by legal action in court. #ZDERA is of non-effect because Biden, being the President and one of its sponsors, will instruct U.S. directors not to vote against Zimbabwe in multilateral lending institutions.

2. Zimbabwe is no longer a threat to the U.S. government, and so the risk of sanctions escalating to invasion has diminished.

3. Zimbabwe can now receive investment from all across the world.

4. All funds that were frozen and confiscated by OFAC from the likes of IDC, MMCZ and private businesses will be returned, and the capital inflows will boost the economy.

5. The nation can now retool, buy medicines, medical equipment, ambulances, parts, the latest technology and machines to rejuvenate our industry, hospitals, power stations, ZISCO and NRZ.