HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda has revealed that he was denied a visa to attend an international meeting of the world’s speakers of parliament two weeks ago in the United States.
In the presence of the European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mudenda who was speaking at the launch of parliament’s institutional strategic plan (2014 to 2018) said his request for a travel visa to the US was turned down two weeks ago.
The Speaker of the National Assembly said while appreciating the support by development partners such as the EU, the United Nations Development Programme and the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust, the denial of the visa to attend the programme of all speakers around the world in New York is evidence that sanctions are still in place against Zimbabwe.
The EU and US imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 after accusing President Robert Mugabe’s regime of brutally cracking down on his opponents.
Since imposing the sanctions over electoral fraud and human rights abuses, the EU has eased measures to encourage political reform in Zimbabwe, although it has kept its ban on Mugabe and his wife Grace, as well as an arms embargo.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in 1980 and has frequently clashed with the West. EU states were divided in their response when Mugabe won a fifth term in a 2013 election that was endorsed as free by African observers but denounced as fraudulent by the opposition.