Individuals undermining democracy in Zimbabwe have been hit with a new visa restriction policy, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a press statement released today.
The new policy, according to Blinken, seeks to hold accountable those responsible for actions that erode the democratic principles and human rights within the African nation.
The new visa restriction policy, in line with Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, will target individuals found to be involved in various activities that threaten Zimbabwe’s democratic processes. These actions encompass manipulating or rigging elections, suppressing voters, obstructing political opposition, hindering the activities of civil society organizations (CSOs) engaged in democratic and human rights work, and employing intimidation tactics against voters, election observers, or CSOs, including threats and physical violence.
Moreover, the policy will apply to those engaging in corrupt practices such as bribery to undermine electoral processes, interfering with the impartial operation of the judiciary in electoral cases, and violating human rights within Zimbabwe.
Importantly, the visa restrictions will not be limited solely to the individuals involved but may extend to their family members as well. This comprehensive approach intends to send a strong message that anyone compromising the democratic process in Zimbabwe, particularly in the run-up to the upcoming August 2023 elections, will face repercussions when it comes to obtaining U.S. visas.
“I am announcing today a new visa restriction policy for undermining democracy in Zimbabwe. Under this policy, the United States will pursue visa restrictions, pursuant to Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, for individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Zimbabwe. Such acts may include manipulating or rigging the electoral process; disenfranchising voters or preventing individuals from exercising their right to vote; excluding members of the political opposition from electoral processes; restricting the ability of civil society organizations (CSOs) to operate and engage in democratic, governance, or human rights related activities; or intimidation of voters, election observers, or CSOs through threats or acts of physical violence,” Blinken wrote in a statement.
Secretary Blinken emphasized that the visa restrictions are specifically targeted at individuals responsible for undermining democracy and do not represent a punitive measure against the Zimbabwean people. The United States remains committed to supporting the aspirations of Zimbabweans for free and fair elections that truly reflect the will of the people. This commitment is rooted in the promotion of democracy, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights within the nation.
The implementation of this visa restriction policy underscores the United States’ dedication to upholding democratic values and reinforcing accountability for those who seek to subvert these principles in Zimbabwe. It is expected that these measures will serve as a significant deterrent to those who engage in anti-democratic activities and promote a more transparent and democratic future for the country.