Saturday, September 24, 2016

Obama Administration Can Still Remove Sanctions Against Zimbabwe: Government
September 24, 2016
Mabasa Sasa at the UNITED NATIONS
Zimbabwe Herald

THERE remains hope for some thawing in Zimbabwe-United States relations in the last few months of President Barack Obama’s administration, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has said. He was speaking to Zimbabwean media here after meeting US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield as part of regular bilateral engagements aimed at improving relations.The US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe through the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act as a response to Harare’s decision to redistribute land held by 6 000 white farmers to 300 000 previously disadvantaged black families.

Zidera bars all international financial institutions in which the US has representation or shareholding from co-operating with Zimbabwe, contrary to claims that the sanctions are “targeted” at a few political elites.

Zimbabwe has been engaging the US and the European Union, which also unilaterally imposed sanctions over the same reason, with a view to normalising relations.

Minister Mumbengegwi said, “We have been meeting for quite some time over the years and on the sidelines of the General Assembly we’ve always met, on the sidelines of the African Union, we’ve always met.

“The main purpose really has always been to engage each other with a view to finding a way forward which would result in the lifting of the illegal sanctions which are currently imposed upon Zimbabwe and it’s an ongoing dialogue.

“The situation in Zimbabwe is really no different from the situation in other countries, it is quite normal.

“Of course within (the US) system there are many complications and sensitivities where they have to bring all the stakeholders on board before any movement can be made.

“We were hoping that the Obama administration would make movement before the end of office and the reason why we were hopeful is the fact that President Obama has engaged virtually all the other countries with which the United States had differences . . .

“It would appear as if Zimbabwe is about the only country which does not seem to receive that kind of attention that these other countries have received.”

He said the major stumbling bloc was that allegations raised about human rights abuses, disrespect of the rule of law and breaches of democracy were not backed up by any specifics during bilateral engagements.

“They always talk of human rights, democracy and rule of law, but these are very general and generic terms which do not prompt anyone to take specific action. It would make it much easier if there were specific, concrete examples.

“We always respect and obey the judgments of our courts. Our courts are open to everyone and every judgment is respected even if (we may not agree with it).

“As for human rights, we have always said whose human rights have been violated? They haven’t been able to give any specifics.

“However, we have agreed to continue to engage and hope that in the remaining few months, maybe some movement will be made as has been done in other situations where the United States has had differences with other countries. Why not with Zimbabwe?”

Minister Mumbengegwi said though there was not much time left in the Obama presidency, there was some scope for progress as “nothing is impossible”.

“It can be done. Of course I’m not saying it will be done, but we will continue the dialogue and hope that something might materialise even in the closing hours of the Obama administration.”

In his address to the General Assembly on Wednesday, President Mugabe called for an end to the illegal sanctions, which were imposed outside of the UN system.

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