By Tererai Karimakwenda
12 August, 2010
At a time when Robert Mugabe has once again unleashed the army, the police, youth militia, party thugs and the so-called war vets on innocent Zimbabweans and the opposition, it has been confirmed that both the US Congress and Senate are considering removing, or at least revising, the targeted sanctions imposed on Mugabe’s government and cronies.
Called the ‘Zimbabwe Sanctions Repeal Act of 2010,’ the new bill was introduced in the US Congress last week by African-American congressman Donald Payne and Senator Jim Inhofe, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. They claimed that the new legislation “aims to retune sanctions to reflect political changes, such as the national unity government installed in Harare in early 2009”. They believe that lifting the targeted sanctions imposed in 2001 would help to stop Mugabe’s human rights abuses, restore economic prosperity and foster a transition to democracy.
But recent events in Zimbabwe have shown that the so-called government of national unity is far from unified. State sponsored violence against the MDC has flared up and intensified as Mugabe’s ZANU PF seeks to influence the results of the ongoing constitutional outreach program, aimed at involving ordinary Zimbabweans in the constitution making process.
Mugabe has also unilaterally reassigned ambassadors, refused to appoint MDC officials to key government posts and made decisions without consulting the MDC. There is still no independent radio and television in the country, while ZANU PF uses the ZBC radio and television to spread hate speech and propaganda.
Luke Zunga from the Global Zimbabwe Forum said the US bill’s sponsors may be responding to pressure from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) not to interfere and to reward the unity government.
He added: “It is yielding to African pressure prematurely rather than waiting to see a complete reversal of undemocratic practices in the country.”
Zunga also believes the presence of the MDC in the unity government has complicated issues. He explained: “I don’t think that Zimbabwe is anywhere close to resolving these issues. They now make it look like everything is working, yet the machinery for violence is still in place.”
Zunga concluded: “Any relaxation of whatever pressure Zimbabwe had would be interpreted as meaning that Zimbabwe is back to normal and I don’t think it is. It has a long way to go and probably won’t get there if pressure is relaxed.”