Mnangagwa Takes Aim At US Embassy Over ‘Biden Chat’
President Emmerson Mnangagwa Thursday took aim at the US Embassy over its hardline stance on Zimbabwe saying it was a departure from the attitude shown by American President, Joe Biden.
Mnangagwa claimed he met with Biden in Glasgow, Scotland on the sideline of the ongoing COP26 summit and they discussed re-engagement efforts.
Relations between Washington and Harare soured at the turn of the millennium when America and the Western countries imposed sanctions following a violent land reform program which ushered a lot of human rights abuses by the then President Robert Mugabe led government.
Washington thereafter imposed sanctions under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) of 2001 which has limited trade between the two countries.
Mnangagwa, who arrived back from Scotland yesterday, said the US Embassy in Harare maintains a tough stance on his administration whereas Biden warmed up to the idea of reengagement.
“I had an opportunity to chat with President Joe Biden and the spirit which he has towards Zimbabwe is totally different from what we see from the US embassy in Harare.
“In fact, he called a staffer and said ‘please make sure that I have a chat with the President (referring to President Mnangagwa),” Mnangagwa said.
Mnangagwa’s administration, since assuming office in 2017, has been on a drive to have sanctions removed and aim at mending relations with the western world,
However, the US, the UK, and other western countries maintain that Zimbabwe needs to respect human rights, align certain laws to the constitution and have investor-friendly policies before engagement can be effected.
Last week, the US Embassy Harare said the current economic crisis is a result of mismanagement and corruption.
“Blaming sanctions is a convenient scapegoat to distract the public from the real reasons behind Zimbabwe’s economic challenges – corruption, economic mismanagement, and failure to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law.
“Failed economic policies and corruption, not sanctions, hinder Zimbabwe’s economic growth: Billions of dollars have been lost due to decades of corruption and harmful economic policies which have culminated in the current economic crisis. Zimbabwe has had both prosperous and difficult years during the life of the targeted sanctions program. Implementation of economic and political reforms are the key to improving Zimbabwe’s trajectory,” said the embassy.
British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melaine Robinson emphasized the need for Zimbabwe to sort out its currency issues and have investment-friendly policies in order to attract business.
She noted that enough investment in solar power generation in Zimbabwe could seek the country to actually export power to other countries.
“Imagine powering up your e-vehicle in South Africa or even further afield with solar power generated in Zimbabwe.
“But again, this will take important action to make it a reality, it will take a step change. Zimbabwe will need to improve the investment environment for mini-grids and off-grid systems and it will need to implement the new policy framework it has developed as well as solve foreign currency issues to unlock the millions of renewable energy investment dollars which are ready to come in,” she added.
Mnangagwa claimed that he had a meeting with a Vatican representative, who told him that they were disappointed about the targeted sanctions imposed on Zanu PF officials.
“… The Vatican is against the sanctions and then I appealed to him that go and convey my message to the Pope and they should also talk to the British and American leadership that these sanctions should go. Again it was a happy exchange with the secretary of state for the Holy Sea.”
United Nations special envoy to Zimbabwe, Alena Douhan, released a report recently calling for the removal of the targeted sanctions. Douhan claimed that the sanctions are hurting ordinary people and businesses.
In her report, she said, “Over the past 20 years, sanctions and various forms of over-compliance with sanctions has had an insidious ripple effect on the economy of Zimbabwe and on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including access to health, food, safe drinking water and sanitation, education and employment.
“This situation also limits Zimbabwe’s ability to guarantee the functioning of public institutions, delivery of services, and maintenance of essential infrastructure, and undermines the right to development of the Zimbabwean people and impedes the achievement of the sustainable development goals.”
Mnangagwa is optimistic that relations between Zimbabwe and the western bloc, particularly the UK government will soon improve.