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US issues fresh curbs on Zimbabwe president, others; terminates sanctions program

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LA Post: US issues fresh curbs on Zimbabwe president, others; terminates sanctions program
Reuters
Reuters
March 04, 2024

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Monday terminated a Zimbabwe sanctions program and reimposed curbs on nine people and three entities, including the country's president, over their alleged involvement in corruption or serious human rights abuse.

WHY IT MATTERS

Washington is seeking to make clear that the sanctions are not intended to target the people of Zimbabwe with Monday's move, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.

"Today we are refocusing our sanctions on clear and specific targets: President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa’s criminal network of government officials and businesspeople who are most responsible for corruption or human rights abuse against the people of Zimbabwe," Adeyemo said.

BY THE NUMBERS

Among those targeted with fresh sanctions were Mnangagwa over involvement in corruption as well as businessman Kudakwashe Regimond Tagwirei, First Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and Defense Minister Oppah Muchinguri, among others.

The entities targeted were Sakunda Holdings, a Zimbabwean firm the Treasury said has facilitated state corruption, as well as Fossil Agro and Fossil Contracting.

Washington also targeted for the first time First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and the deputy director general of Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organization.

Sanctions on dozens of people and entities were set to be removed with Monday's termination of the Zimbabwe executive orders, including against the president's eldest son, who is largely viewed as the face of his father's business interests.

Sanctions against Patrick Chinamasa, the former finance minister who currently heads the ruling party Zanu PF's treasury and is largely viewed as one of the chief enforcers of Robert Mugabe's rule, and Saviour Kasukuwere, a Mugabe loyalist now in self-imposed exile, were also set to be removed.

CONTEXT

Mnangagwa first became president when longtime strongman Mugabe was toppled in a 2017 military coup after 37 years in power. Mnangagwa's first term was marked by runaway inflation, currency shortages and sky-high unemployment.

The Zimbabwean dollar has lost more than 60% of its value against the U.S. dollar so far this year, while annual inflation is at 47.6%, in a country still scarred by memories of hyperinflation under Mugabe.

KEY QUOTE

"The United States remains deeply concerned about democratic backsliding, human rights abuses, and government corruption in Zimbabwe," Adeyemo said.

"These changes to our approach provide an opportunity for the Government of Zimbabwe to undertake key reforms to improve its record on human rights, good governance, and anti-corruption."

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Washington and Nyasha Chingono in Harare; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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