HomeHeadlinesWest casts sanctions net wider:Zanu PF financiers, clerics under radar

West casts sanctions net wider:Zanu PF financiers, clerics under radar

SYDNEY KAWADZA/TINASHE MAKICHI
INDIVIDUALS and companies suspected of financing President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF party’s upcoming 2023 election campaign are reportedly under the US, EU and British radar as the Western allies move towards expanding the economic embargo imposed more than two decades ago on Zimbabwe.

The US and EU and Britain imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001 and 2002 respectively, accusing Harare of gross human rights abuses, electoral fraud and other misdemeanours after the chaotic land reform programme at the turn of the century.

Western governments review the sanctions annually with the countries extending the embargo every February and March since they were imposed.

In renewing its arms embargo and assets freeze against the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) in February last year, the EU cited a lack of substantial reforms and continued human rights violations in the southern African nation.

Britain also included a travel ban and asset freeze on former State Security minister Owen Ncube, Isaac Moyo (director-general of the Central Intelligence Organisation), ZRP Commissioner-general Godwin Matanga and Brigadier General (Retired) Anselem Sanyatwe.

In March 2021, US President Joe Biden said he was extending the sanctions citing lack of political reforms and continued efforts by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to undermine the country’s “democratic processes.”

There are about 140 Zimbabwean entities and individuals currently under US sanctions.

Latest reviews are expected to start from next month amid reports that the US and Britain are considering sanctioning some companies with links to Zanu PF ahead of elections next year.

Latest round of sanctions could target Better Brands owned by Zanu PF functionary Scott Sakupwanya.

The source said businessman Farai Matsika through companies linked to him, Faramatsi Motors and Doves, is also under the spotlight. A number of local business people and church leaders are also targeted.

“We could see individuals from the Affirmative Action Group (AAG) being targeted, but the list could include two prominent clerics, one based in the Diaspora, as they are also accused of propping up ED (Emmerson Mnangagwa) and his Zanu PF cohort,” the sources said.
“Also under monitoring are top vehicle dealers, ostensibly, for their roles in donating to various government programmes which has since been equated to enabling the Zanu PF regime.”

The AAG is run by Zanu PF youth league members and functionaries who are propping up the former liberation movement’s agenda.

The Independent is informed that the sanctions could target some mining and construction companies run by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s close associates.
“Some companies that have been winning various government tenders, especially in the construction sector, could be under the radar,” sources said.

The US embassy in Harare started listing a number of requirements that benchmark the holding of free and fair elections to strengthen the integrity of the polls.

“March by-elections and the 2023 harmonised elections give the Government of Zimbabwe a chance to show that #ZimVotesMatter, especially if it honours its commitment to level the playing field by undertaking #ZimElectoralReform,” the embassy said on Twitter.

“This week, the US embassy in Harare will tweet several examples of what our government sees as the criteria for a free and fair election. Stated in the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) and also in Zimbabwe’s own Constitution, these values have remained constant.”

The US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001 under Zidera, following allegations of gross human rights abuses, economic mismanagement and electoral theft.
The sanctions are reviewed annually with the EU and Britain extending the embargo in February last year while the US followed suit in March, 2021.

In an interview, Zanu PF spokesperson Tafadzwa Mugwadi said imposing sanctions has never helped the West achieve its intended purposes.

“Imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe, its people and her economy has never helped the Americans achieve their dream, because by its very nature, the dream is unachievable.
“Regime change has failed dismally for the past two decades of sanctions. As if that is not enough, the targeted revolutionary party, Zanu PF, continues to grow from strength to strength and victory to victory much to the chagrin of puppets and their paymasters,” Mugwadi said.

The sanctions issue has divided the nation with observers disagreeing on the effectiveness of the embargo.

Political commentators expressed competing views with some calling for the intensification of the sanctions while others argue that the sanctions have had a reverse effect providing the ruling party with ammunition to consolidate power while using the anti-sanctions mantra to rally the people and the Sadc region into its corner.

Political commentator Alexander Rusero said the sanctions had been used for regime preservation purposes while giving Zanu PF a convenient narrative for regime-change conspiracies.

“It’s not a secret that the efficacy of sanctions has actually had the reverse effect because what we have witnessed ever since they were promulgated in 2001 and 2002 by the US and EU, respectively, is that sanctions have actually been used as a weapon by Zanu PF.”

Rusero argues that the regional stance meant the incumbent was more to be trusted than neo-liberal forces such as the opposition MDC parties adding that there was no reason sanctions should be maintained.

“The West has remained blatantly complicit in sustaining Zanu PF’s preservation.”
However, South African-based political analyst, Trust Matsilele argues that it was difficult to find an alternative way to deal with the socio-economic and political problems facing Zimbabwe without giving pressure to the ruling elite.

“There are arguments that they (sanctions) haven’t worked but it doesn’t look like there is any alternative at this point outside sanctions; so I believe that they are necessary because there hasn’t been any form of reform from the elites in Harare.”
Matsilele said there was no need to sympathise with the ruling elites who were responsible for gross human rights abuses.

The Cape Town-based academic said the Zanu PF government deserved severe punishment adding the US and EU had done well in recognising the injustices suffered by Zimbabweans.

“It’s unfortunate that African countries look the other way. If South Africa would also impose these sanctions on Harare; if Botswana would follow suit or if Mozambique would do the same, there would have been change.”

However, a UN special rapporteur on the negative effects of sanctions Alena Douhan last year called on the US and other Western governments to lift the sanctions on Zimbabwe.

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