By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
25 April 2014
The US government has refused to say why ZANU PF benefactor Billy Rautenbach was let off the targeted sanctions hook last week.
Rautenbach was one of the 113 ZANU PF functionaries that Washington slapped with restrictive measures in response to the regime’s human rights abuses.
But in a surprise move on April 17th, the US government lifted the restrictions against Rautenbach, but added Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, for his role in the chaotic, disputed 2013 elections.
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, would not say why the controversial businessman has been removed from the list.
Speaking to SW Radio Africa Friday, Ambassador Wharton said the US government imposed targeted sanctions on individuals they “believed were in a position to weaken Zimbabwe and Mr Rautenbach was one of those people.”
The US official however said he will not go into the specifics of why an individual has been taken off the list.
“We have also taken off the list a sitting Cabinet minister and a [ZANU PF] politburo member, so there are a number of people who have come off that list.”
Rautenbach owes much of his illicit fortune to his links with Zimbabwe’s military.
The US Ambassador said Mudede had been added to the list for depriving Zimbabweans of an opportunity to participate in a transparent and credible electoral process.
“We did not believe the election was credible, and one of the big problems was the voter registration process and the absence of a publicly useful voters’ roll. So for us, those two things were key to the lost opportunity that the 2013 elections represented,” Wharton added.
The US envoy also dismissed reports that his government had “frozen and later unfrozen” an account used by the Zim government to pay its embassy staff in Washington.
On Thursday, media reports quoted Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying the US government had frozen the account as part of its targeted measures.
But Wharton said the US government had not been involved in freezing or closing any accounts. He said the decision had been made by a commercial bank and about 16 foreign missions, including Zim, had been affected.
“Some banks want to do business internationally and some do not. This was not a US government decision and had nothing to do with the US policy towards Zimbabwe,” Wharton added.