US renews sanctions against Zimbabwe

Thursday March 04 2021
Zimbabwe sanctions.

Demonstrators during a rally to denounce US and EU economic sanctions against Zimbabwe at the National Stadium, Harare, in 2019. PHOTO | AFP


The United States has renewed its targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe citing President Emmerson Mnangagwa's reluctance to roll out political and economic reforms.

US President Joe Biden, in a letter to Congress, said in the last year Zimbabwe's security services had committed several human rights violations.

"Actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States," President Biden said.

"President Emmerson Mnangagwa has not made the necessary political and economic reforms that would warrant terminating the existing sanctions programme.

"Throughout the last year, government security services routinely intimidated and violently repressed citizens, including members of the opposition, union members and journalists." 

He added: "The absence of progress on the most fundamental reforms needed to ensure the rule of law, democratic governance and the protection of human rights, leaves Zimbabweans vulnerable to ongoing repression and presents a continuing threat to peace and security in the region."


The US has maintained punitive travel and financial measures against top Zimbabwean government and security officials since 2003 over alleged human rights violations and electoral fraud.

At least 140 Zimbabwean entities and individuals are on the US targeted sanctions list.

Western countries have been putting pressure on President Mnangagwa by renewing targeted sanctions imposed during the late Robert Mugabe era.

The European Union (EU) on February 19 renewed an arms embargo against Zimbabwe’s state owned arms company and asset freezes as well as travel bans against top officials.

Brussels' move followed the United Kingdom's decision to slap asset freezes and travel bans on Zimbabwe’s four top security chiefs as well as an embargo after leaving the EU at the end of last year.

They both expressed concern over lack of progress in political and economic reforms President Mnangagwa promised three years ago following the coup that toppled Mr Mugabe.

Australia, Canada and New Zealand also maintain targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe.

The African Union and Southern African Development Community recently joined the push for the removal of the embargo without success.