BY MOSES MATENGA
THE Zimbabwean government has pleaded for a meeting with United States Senate officials, in a bid to push for sanctions against President Emmerson Mnangagwa and members of his administration to be lifted.
Relations between the US and Zimbabwe have been frosty for two decades after Washington introduced the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) in 2001, citing electoral theft and human rights abuses.
A letter dated August 9, 2021, to an unidentified member of the US Senate Committee on Foreign relations, laid bare Harare’s desperation for a new trajectory with the West.
The letter, which government officials confirmed was authentic, was penned by Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Washington, Tadeous Chifamba and was delivered by Mercury Public Affairs, LLC, a registered foreign agent, on behalf of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade ministry.
In the letter, Chifamba claimed the country was on the right path to reforms, hence the need for a meeting to explain the current situation.
Chifamba, whose letter of credence as ambassador was accepted on July 7 this year, said the US congress committee was doing “sterling work that has earned the US recognition worldwide as a successful democratic model to envy”.
“It is on that note that I wish to express my intention to closely work with you and your office in sharing and advancing the goals of our two countries for the benefit of our peoples,” Chifamba wrote.
He said his request for a meeting was motivated by the US’s current bid to review the effectiveness of sanctions in Africa.
“I am informed that the US Congress is currently considering, with the aim of reviewing, the effectiveness or non-effectiveness and impact of sanctions towards Africa. This re-evaluation on the way the US approaches sanctions on African countries is a subject very close to Zimbabwe’s interests,” he said.
“As you know, the ordinary Zimbabwean citizens have endured hardships for over a period of time due to the enactment of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (Zidera) of 2018. It is, therefore, vital that I formally request a meeting with you to discuss this issue at this critical juncture as I would seek to brief you on the significant strides the Zimbabwean government has taken in implementing both economic and political reforms on the path to democratisation.
“I also intend to discuss with you during the meeting other issues of mutual concern that include the threat of violent extremism in Mozambique; investment opportunities for US companies; advancement of women’s empowerment and wildlife conservation efforts in Zimbabwe.”
He said Zimbabwe had been “on a new path” since the coming in of the Second Republic in 2017 and was seeking to normalise relations.
Zimbabwe has claimed that Zidera and the sanctions on individuals and parastatals have isolated the country from international financiers and in 2018, hired the services of a foreign company to lobby members of the US Congress on its behalf.
The government has also claimed that the sanctions were punishment for the land reform programme, but Washington blames Harare’s corruption, rights abuses and mismanagement of the economy.
When Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe in November 2017, relations between the two countries appeared to be on a reset, but the US’s refusal to accept the 2018 election result, the killing by the army of six civilians in the aftermath of the polls and rising graft have pushed them further apart.
Foreign Affairs deputy minister David Musabayana yesterday could not immediately comment on the letter and referred questions to ministry spokesperson Constance Chemwayi.
Chemwayi, however, could also neither confirm nor deny the proposed meeting.
She said: “It is best, therefore, to talk to those who published the letter because if those letters are not meant for public consumption we don’t comment. Probably those who published the letter can comment because to us, it is a public document and how it leaked is not for us to comment.”
Meanwhile, in a related matter, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba yesterday sensationally claimed that Washington funded the 2018 post-election chaos in Zimbabwe to effect regime change against the Mnangagwa administration.
He claimed that to achieve that, the US financed non-governmental organisations to fake abductions, torture and brutality.
Charamba accused journalist Hopewell Chin’ono of having sold out opposition “hideouts” and their modus operandi after the 2018 harmonised elections, as well as the chaos that followed, in a private meeting with Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.
“Both the doctors for human rights and Counselling Services Unit (CSU), as with many other regime change outfits, got funding from the US embassy, whether directly through USAid and its agencies, or indirectly and with support from many Western governments including the United Kingdom government, through accounts ran by some Nordic countries,” he said adding that “in rare yet notable cases, funds would be routed through United Nations agencies,” Charamba tweeted.
Charamba also alleged that all the reported cases of brutality were sponsored and dramatised to “overwhelm the nascent Second Republic”.
“The strategy was a simple one from a propaganda point of view: engage several make-up artists who manufacture horror images in brisk succession to a point where a narrative of gory brutality sticks, and with such rapidity that the police — then still under reconstruction in the wake of events of 2017 — would simply get overwhelmed and too paralysed to investigate any alleged case.
“Several “safe houses” were established in different suburbs of different towns and cities, principally in the capital, Harare. It is a trick MDC had used in the past, validated by medical reports from doctors for human rights and some organisation called CSU, which purported to deal with cases of acute trauma.”
Charamba further claimed that similar claims were made in the past with Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and his Home Affairs counterpart Kazembe Kazembe alleging that a foreign hand, particularly the West, was financing a regime change agenda in Zimbabwe.