Chefs’ wives, kids join US blacklist

Loughty Dube

THE United States government has widened sanctions against President Mugabe’s ruling clique by including his economic strategist Gideon Gono and his wife, and spouses of senior government and Za

nu PF officials on the new list.


The list also includes children of Zanu PF officials, some of them barely in their teens.


US President George Bush this week issued an executive order to spread the economic sanctions net against Zimbabwean officials and blocked more assets owned by Mugabe’s cronies.


A statement from the White House said Bush had issued the order allowing US authorities to “block the property of additional persons undermining democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe, their immediate family members, and any persons assisting them”.


The executive order, which took effect on Wednesday, expands sanctions imposed by the United States on 77 Zimbabweans in March 2003.

The new list includes officials of the newly-created Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and police chiefs.


Contacted for comment yesterday, Information minister Ambassador Tichaona Jokonya said the list was “inconsequential”.


“The list is completely immaterial, it is inconsequential,” said Jokonya who has already been targeted. “Who said we want to go to America? I don’t know who told the Americans we want to go to their country when we have our small but beautiful Zimbabwe.”


Jokonya served as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York until 2003.


Reserve Bank governor Gono is the most prominent addition to the US blacklist, together with his wife Hellin. Information permanent secretary George Charamba, who was on the original list, has been joined by his wife Rudo, while Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo’s two wives, Ever of Warren Park and Marian of Alexandra Park, are among the newcomers.


Interestingly, former Labour minister July Moyo and former Finance minister Chris Kuruneri have been removed from the list. Moyo was banished from government and Zanu PF over his involvement in the ill-fated Tsholotsho declaration, while Kuruneri spent more than a year in remand prison on charges of externalising foreign currency. He is currently out on bail.


Former Information minister Jonathan Moyo, the architect of the Tsholotsho declaration, however, remains on the list.


Other spouses included on the list are Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa’s wife Monica, defence forces commander Constantine Chiwenga’s wife Jocelyn, deputy Science and Technology minister Patrick Zhuwawo’s wife Beauty Lily, and deputy Finance minister David Chapfika’s wife Abina.


Others are Shaloitte Msipa, wife of Midlands governor Cephas Msipa, Ruth Chipo Murerwa, wife of Finance minister Herbert Murerwa, and Rose Jaele Ndlovu, wife of deputy Higher Education minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.


Consultant in the President’s Office on Small Enterprises Sithembiso Nyoni has been joined by her husband Peter while Georgina Ngwenya joins her husband, Speaker of parliament, John Nkomo.


Sons and daughters of President Mugabe’s close associates have been netted as they now appear on the sanctions list.


These include Ijeoma Dabengwa, son of former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa, and Chinamasa’s 14-year-old daughter, Gamuchirai.


Louise Sehlule Nkomo, the daughter of nationalist and former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, who is married to Environment and Tourism minister Francis Nhema, has been added to the sanctions list.


Other children of Zanu PF officials on the list are Oppah Muchinguri’s two daughters Natasha and Tanya, aged 11 and 16 respectively.


President Bush, in signing the declaration, said since the first order in 2003 conditions in Zimbabwe had deteriorated.


“This action is not aimed at the people of Zimbabwe, but rather at those most responsible for their plight,” he said.


“The failed political and economic policies of the Robert Mugabe regime have devastated Zimbabwe. The United States has repeatedly called upon the government of Zimbabwe to abandon its harassment of civil society, the press, and the political opposition; to restore the rule of law; to negotiate in good faith to resolve the impasse created by the flawed 2002 election; and to hold free and fair parliamentary elections in 2005,” Bush said in a statement after signing the executive order.


The extension of sanctions comes hot on the heels of a diplomatic row between Harare and Washington following ambassador Christopher Dell’s speech in Mutare in which he castigated gross mismanagement and corruption in government as the root case of the economic meltdown. The government immediately summoned the diplomat and threatened him with expulsion for “meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs”.