Foreigners Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo says he expects Zimbabwe’s relations with the United States to improve under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, despite the latter extending sanctions against the southern African nation.
The US reimposed limited economic sanctions against Zimbabwe under its Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera), highlighting the serious political obstacles Zimbabwe faces to re-engage with the international community.
But Moyo said the revised Act was a silver lining on the horizon.
In an interview on the sidelines of the swearing-in ceremony at State House on Monday, Moyo said the amendments pushed by Senators Chris Coons and Jeff Flake following a visit to Harare were progressive.
“From what it was originally, (the amended Zidera Act) is a very improved status. It is like moving from minus 15 degrees to zero, it’s progress. We believe that this has been an improvement even on the part of the Americans, especially from the efforts of Senators Coons and Flake,” he said.
“They observed our elections and said this was the best election they had seen (contrasted against Zimbabwe’s previous polls). Although we still argue, we do not deserve any form of restriction. It is important to note that there has been progress.”
Moyo said following the July 30 election, Zimbabwe now had a clean platform to re-launch its campaign for integration into the family of nations.
“We now have a clear bedrock from which to launch our economic diplomacy. Some countries were sitting on the fence, but I can assure you that this is the time to deploy all the forces of diplomacy to fully develop the economic re-engagement process,” he said.
“We are deepening our relations with the east, but also opening up to the rest of the world. We want to be free to deploy our people, to trade internationally and to participate in the international order.
“All we want is to ensure that we are friendly to all countries. Diplomacy is selfish, we are saying Zimbabwe first in all we do, but there will be compromises because every country has its interests.”
But Harare lawyer and political analyst Sithembile Mpofu differed with Moyo.
“Zidera actually tightened the screws. It sets conditions they know we cannot meet. The piece of legislation is not in the spirit of democracy, but the desire to control,” Mpofu said.
Opposition MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe’s deputy Obert Gutu called for the scrapping of the sanctions.
“We think it’s an unfortunate development. The US must remove Zidera, it has primary and secondary effects. The secondary effect is the perception. It is a fact that New York is the world’s financial capital and all deals are orchestrated from there. Zidera has the effect of presenting Zimbabwe as a pariah or rogue State that nobody should deal with,” Gutu said.
In 2001 at the height of the land reform programme, the US slapped then President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle with targeted sanctions that Zanu PF continues to blame for the country’s economic and social woes.
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