The US has defended its two decades-old sanctions against Zimbabwe saying they only targeted those that undermine democratic processes or facilitate corruption.
Washington spoke as the UN special rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights arrived in Zimbabwe to “assess the impact of punitive economic sanctions on ordinary Zimbabweans.”
Belarusian Alena Douhan met President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday to begin her 10-day mission that will include meetings with top government officials.
Ned Price, the US State Department spokesperson, said Washington was not responsible for Zimbabwe’s economic collapse.
“Our sanctions there target human rights abusers and those who undermine democratic processes or facilitate corruption,” Price said.
“I want to be clear that the sanctions do not target the Zimbabwean people. Zimbabwe’s economic ills, we know, are caused by leaders abusing power, not US sanctions.
“Our sanctions target only 83 individuals and 37 entities. We review our sanctions list regularly to acknowledge developments in Zimbabwe. They make it more difficult for targeted individuals and entities to access funds through the global financial infrastructure,” he added.
“We do not target Zimbabwe’s banking sector, but rather ensure sanctioned individuals and entities cannot use the US financial system to enjoy their ill-gotten gains.
“Blaming US sanctions for Zimbabwe’s problems detracts from the core issues of better governance, and to that end, Zimbabwe must make reforms consistent with its constitution.”
Western countries first imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2003 after accusing the regime of the late Robert Mugabe of human rights violations and electoral fraud.
After the coup that toppled Mugabe in 2017, President Mnangagwa pushed a re-engagement policy, but the US and the UK have imposed sanctions on some of his key allies accused of corruption and human rights violations.
He is accused of failing to keep his promises to reform and human rights violations.
Zimbabwe maintains that the sanctions are an attempt to push for regime change.
“These sanctions are illegal and hurt the most vulnerable in our society,” President Mnangagwa’s office said.