Friday, March 30, 2018

EDITORIAL COMMENT: US Must Be an Example of Inclusive Dialogue
29 MAR, 2018 - 00:03
Zimbabwe Herald

The latest exchanges between Zimbabwe and the United States as a result of prescriptive reforms demanded by the American government as precondition for re-engagement have potential to worsen relations (hopefully that’s not what America is spoiling for) Zimbabwe has been labouring to build since the dawn of a new investment dispensation under President Mnangagwa.

Many Zimbabwean companies still suffer the debilitating effects of economic sanctions by the US Treasury Department’s Office for Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) that continues to intercept payments to or from Zimbabwean  firms.

Many countries prefer to use the US dollar when transacting given its stability, but it’s not international currency and therefore, like any other central banks in the world, the Federal Bank has powers to monitor all transactions in US dollars as a way of protecting its currency.

Following his ascendancy to power, President Mnangagwa has introduced sweeping economic and political measures we believe will have far- reaching consequences on the economy and the country’s foreign policy.

The President has amended the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act and the 51/49 percent ownership threshold now applies only to diamonds and platinum; he has pledged to compensate for farms taken under the land reform programme that were covered under Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements. Most paramount, he has promised free and credible elections as part of positive efforts to reach out to the global community.

It is against this backdrop that everyone expected the Western world and America, to abandon its bellicosity against Zimbabwe experienced over the years.

It is, therefore, disturbing to note two US senators — Messrs Jeff Flake (Republican) and Chris Coons (Democrat) — who are members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee are now pushing a supplementary charge sheet on top of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) of 2001.

The additional demands resemble those made by the MDC Alliance recently.

That is why President Mnangagwa is spot on when he demands that the US should make decisions on Zimbabwe from an informed position and stop relying solely on the template it’s presented by opposition political parties and hostile civic society. This is completely at variance with the inclusivity America is demanding of the Government of Zimbabwe.

Shouldn’t America be leading by example by soliciting the views of all key stakeholders before making provocative demands on what the military is doing and what it should not be engaged in?

At the very least, we expect any pre-conditions for re-engagement with Zimbabwe to display an appreciation for the positive measures being undertaken to improve the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.

Mr Chamisa and some members of his MDC Alliance appeared before the same US Senate committee on December 13 last year demanding an extension the current sanctions regime.

And it appears the US government took this appeal hook, line and sinker. It doesn’t seem to be amused by its ambassador here, Harry K. Thomas Jnr, who has been talking about an improvement in relations. The latest policy posture by America doesn’t benefit businesses, or American businesspeople already invested in Zimbabwe.

The US government is deliberately denying these companies an opportunity to join other international companies doing business in Zimbabwe. By the time America wakes up, it will discover that Zimbabwe has moved  on.

Zimbabwean companies, mainly State-owned, have suffered the most because their money has been confiscated by Ofac and are failing to receive payment after delivering goods and services to foreign markets.

To Mr Chamisa and fellow sellouts who have rejected President Mnangagwa’s positive overtures, Zimbabweans will judge you accordingly. What kind of a country does the MDC want its supporters to live in? Should they win elections (God forbid) what Zimbabwe do they want to inherit? A nation ruined by foreign sanctions championed by fellow Zimbabweans!

There is talk of an American delegation coming into the country. We hope they come with an open mind in the spirit of goodwill rather than as the whip of an imperial master sent to enforce a divine order from their god Donald Trump.

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