Sanctions on Zimbabwe still remain: Here is what it means

On Monday, 04 March 2024, the United States government announced a new Zimbabwe sanctions regime, keeping measures on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his allies. America is also pulling out of talks for a debt relief deal for Zimbabwe.

According to newZWire, the announcement by the US government does not mean that the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe are gone. The report says:

The US is simply using a different stick. The US President, Joe Biden, has scrapped the sanctions programme that the US has used to impose measures on Zimbabwe since 2003, called Executive Orders.

But he has done so only to make way for a new regime of measures under a different programme, known as the Magnitsky sanctions.

Targeted are three companies and 11 individuals. Among the listed are Mnangagwa, VP Constantino Chiwenga, businessman Kuda Tagwirei, and deputy security chief Walter Tapfumaneyi.

The measures include travel bans and asset freezes, the same as under the previous regime of sanctions. Tagwirei was already designated.

Furthermore, the United States is maintaining the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), a separate set of sanctions that it imposed on Zimbabwe in 2001.

ZDERA was enacted in response to land reform and rights abuses. Removing ZDERA requires legislative action by the US Congress to repeal it, as it is an Act not an Executive Order.

So, what has changed is that the previous sanctions regime, under Executive Orders, now falls away. This means individuals and companies that were listed are now no longer sanctioned.

Those off the list include Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Emmerson Mnangagwa Jr. Among the key state companies now no longer under sanctions are state mining firm ZMDC, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Defence Industries and Ziscosteel.

A total of three companies and 11 people remain on the sanctions list. Mnangagwa is the only sitting president under the Magnitsy sanctions. On Mnangagwa, the State Department says:

Mnangagwa provides a protective shield to smugglers to operate in Zimbabwe and has directed Zimbabwean officials to facilitate the sale of gold and diamonds in illicit markets, taking bribes in exchange for his services.

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa is also now sanctioned for facilitating “her husband’s corrupt activities”. Tagwirei and his wife, Sandra, and their company, Sakunda, are also sanctioned.

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Tagwirei’s business associate Obey Chimuka and his companies Fossil Agro and Fossil Contracting, are also sanctioned. Fossil Agro was already listed in December 2022.

Remaining under sanctions are government and security officials, including Chiwenga, Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri, Police Commissioner Godwin Matanga and his deputy Stephen Mutamba, Tapfumaneyi, plus Owen Ncube.

The United States has also withdrawn from talks, led by the African Development Bank and including the European Union and other creditors, for debt relief for Zimbabwe.

Posting on X, CCC Member of Parliament said the new United States sanctions regime signals “a tightening of screws”. She wrote:

Contrary to some cheap regime propaganda bordering on absolute ignorance, the recent designation of 11 individuals including Mr Mnangagwa and 3 entities under the Global Magnitsky Act on account of human rights abuses and corruption is a big indictment on this regime.

Whilst the 2003 Executive Orders were expunged, the recent development signals a tightening of screws. Mr Mnangagwa is the first Head of State to be designated while Mr. Chiwenga is the second Deputy Head of State to be designated under the high-profile Global Magnitsky Act.

The Global Magnitsky Act draws inspiration from the Magnitsky Act enacted following the death of Sergei Magnitsky – A Russian lawyer & auditor who unearthed a grand tax graft associated with the Kremlin. The Global Magnitsky Act targets human rights violators and the corrupt.

ZIDERA remains in place as an Act of Congress & its contents remain valid with respect to US foreign policy on Zimbabwe. According to the US Government, Zim must implement reforms to normalize relations between the 2 countries. The US has also pulled out of the ADB debt process.

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