Friday, April 25, 2014

US Freezes Zimbabwe Embassy Account
Zimbabwe Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa signs agreements with China.
April 24, 2014
Bulawayo Bureau
Zimbabwe Herald

FINANCE Minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday confronted US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton over his country’s recent tightening of its illegal sanctions regime that saw the addition of one company and several Chinese nationals doing business in Zimbabwe to a travel and financial blacklist along with the freezing of the Zimbabwe embassy bank account in Washington.

Speaking at the Zimbabwe International Business Conference at the ZITF, Minister Chinamasa said he was shocked when Zimbabwe embassy officials told him last week that their bank account had been frozen and they had failed to access their salaries.

“I could not believe it when I was told that the US had frozen the embassy account and this created problems because we could not send money to pay the embassy workers their salaries.

“We advised them to open a new account with a different bank, but this was not possible as every other bank gave them flimsy excuses,” said the minister.

The bank account was only unfrozen after Zimbabwe took the matter up with the US State Department whose Office of Foreign Assets Control has been prejudicing Zimbabwean firms of millions of dollars in seized funds.

The West’s illegal sanctions regime is estimated to have cost Zimbabwe over US$42 billion in revenue since the turn of the millennium.

While Ambassador Wharton said the bank account had since been unfrozen, Minister Chinamasa rapped the action, saying it was wrong for the US to have taken it in the first place.

“I know that the account has been unfrozen, but why do that in the first place? The account was only opened after talking to the  State Department. Why go that far?” asked Cde Chinamasa.

He bemoaned the existence of the illegal western sanctions saying they were placing the economy under siege. He said he had not wanted to talk about the issue at the business forum but had no option as the US ambassador was also present.

Cde Chinamasa said it was, however, important for people from all sectors of the economy to unite and work towards success in spite of the sanctions.

“I am not saying all this to frighten anyone, but I want people to know where the landmines are and I want us to find a way to tip-toe around the landmines.

“We should not be fooled by Americans who tell us all sorts of reasons for the sanctions. The reason is the land reform programme. This programme has been very expensive for the country. It has come with huge costs,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking at an exhibition of President Mugabe’s iconic images at the ZITF, the Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Professor Jonathan Moyo commended the US for its presence after years of boycotting the exposition. He said their participation will give them an understanding of how harmful the illegal sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe were.

Prof Moyo said time had come for the US government to promote trade with Zimbabwe after the broad endorsement of the July 2013 harmonised elections convincingly won by Zanu-PF.

“Time has come for them to promote trade. You can’t come here saying you are an honest broker and show one hand and hide the other with hostility and animosity. We receive them with both hands and ask them to show the two hands and stop the behaviour they have been doing since 2001. We will be keenly following what they do after this,” he said.

Prof Moyo said the country was going to restore normal diplomatic relations with everyone in the international community.

“One of the things that make us really believe that after the 2013 elections, the general atmosphere in the country even as we speak now is reminiscent of spirit of 1980 is among other things exemplified by the presence of even our detractors. You see in 1980, we won against our detractors but after the victory, we celebrated with them, they came and became part of a new order. And we are seeing that again. Yes there have been serious quarrels over the last 15 years where our independence, a very important asset was under attract and we defended successfully as shown by the absolute majority in the elections,” he said.

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