BY RICHARD MUPONDE
Former United States Department of State assistant secretary for African Affairs, Todd Moss has told President Emmerson Mnangagwa that the US administration will not lift sanctions and accused him of squandering opportunities to engage during Donald Trump’s reign.
Moss also told Mnangagwa to stop wasting money by hiring public relations firms and lobbyists before implementing reforms demanded by the US.
Mnangagwa’s administration is seeking to reset its relationship with the Joe Biden government according Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo last week.
But speaking in a zoom interview with an online publication yesterday, Moss said he does not expect the removal of sanctions under the Biden administration because of the worsening human rights record in the Second Republic.
“Under Trump (Donald) there might have been an opportunity to go around the professional diplomats and appeal directly to the President to change course on Zimbabwe,” Moss said.
“But that was an opportunity that the Zimbabwean government had that will not possibly work under Biden…. The PR firms which have been paid to make that happen, it’s a complete waste of money and so I don’t expect to see those approaches bearing any fruits under the Biden administration.”
Zimbabwe has been under US sanctions since 2001 after the passing of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act. Zidera was signed into law in December 2001 by President George Bush, cutting Zimbabwe from accessing international loans
The sanctions were in response to the late President Robert Mugabe’s administration’s failure to uphold the rule of law and human rights after the violent land grab from white farmers by war veterans.
The sanctions regime was also extended to President Mnangagwa’s regime for human rights abuses after the killing of protestors on August 01 2018 and January fuel protests in 2019 by the military and the police and the continued harassment of opposition activists and human rights defenders.
Biden co-authored Zidera with other senators from Democrats and Republicans.
Efforts by Harare, including hiring a and US and UK consultancy firm to have the sanctions removed have failed, with each administration renewing the measures despite Africa’s united call to have them removed.
In September 2019, Mnangagwa hired a London-based BTP Advisories to spruce up the country’s image and force the removal of sanctions at a cost of US$500 000 annually. He also hired Ballard Partners Inc — run by Brian Ballard, a fundraiser for former US President Donald Trump’s campaign government.
In June 2019, Mnangagwa also engaged Avenue Strategies at a fee of US$1 million in June the same year. In March 2020, the Zanu PF leader engaged yet another US firm, Mercury to lobby for the removal of sanctions.
Moss said the people propping up the Mnangagwa regime including cabinet ministers would find it difficult to be accepted in international society.
“Of course contacts are being made about the back sliding in Zimbabwe itself where conditions are getting worse not better….. I don’t think there’s anyone in Washington DC who is still buying promises from the government and I actually see the opposite happening where those who are paid by Zimbabwe or working for Zimbabwe including cabinet members are going to face an international backlash. I do think some political elite who are hoping one day to be welcome to the international society, they will find doors closed after that,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s human rights record has continued to deteriorate under Mnangagwa’s rule, with the US and western diplomats including the EU raising a red flag over the continued persecution of dissent in the country.
Recently there was an outcry after the arrest of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who was granted bail yesterday, MDC Alliance vice chairperson, Job Sikhala, party spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere who is also out on bail.
Government has been pressing for the removal of the sanctions with its voice amplified by Sadc and African Union leaders who also sang the same chorus and a calendar date of 25 October has been set aside to protest against sanctions each year.
Minister of Information Monica Mutsvangwa said she was on leave and referred questions to permanent secretary, Ndavaningi Mangwana and acting Minister of Information, Jenfan Muswere whose mobile phones went unanswered.
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