EDITORIAL COMMENT: Trump must consider removing sanctions against Zimbabwe

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

OUTGOING United States President Barack Obama is throwing reckless punches at the end of his largely impotent presidency during which he did virtually nothing for the continent of his father’s birth and was largely a lame duck leader beholden to the whims and caprices of the Washington establishment. Being the first black President of the US, Mr Obama missed an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by improving relations with the rest of the world.

Instead, he will be remembered as the President under whose watch scores of black Americans were slaughtered on the streets while Washington’s standing in the world is in a perilous state. His administration last week announced a roll-over of ruinous sanctions on Zimbabwe and this knee-jerk decision follows hard on the heels of another equally mind-boggling move where the US sought to escalate a row with Russia by expelling 35 of its embassy staff accredited to Washington as a response to alleged Russian interference in the American presidential elections.

The Obama administration believes Russian agents hacked into Mrs Hillary Clinton’s emails and released them to be public domain as a way of swaying the vote in favour of Republican candidate Mr Donald Trump who won the November 2016 plebiscite with a clear majority, confounding critics, the mainstream media and the Washington establishment order.

At the end of an explosive, populist and polarising campaign that took relentless aim at the institutions and long-held ideals of American democracy, Mr Trump was declared the clear winner and will on Friday be inaugurated as the 45th President of the US. We wish him well as he succeeds Mr Obama — the President who wasn’t there — and who is only flickering to life now as the reality of a Trump presidency slowly sinks in. The dream of a return to the White House of his friend Hillary has turned into a nightmare hence the reckless shadow boxing Obama has embarked on in the twilight of his reign.

Whether he intends to spoil things for the incoming Trump just to spite him or he wants to leave a footprint for his largely inept presidency, we are not concerned. What irks us is his willingness to carry over a scorched earth policy towards Zimbabwe which has achieved nothing but accelerate the suffering of the people of this country.

US sanctions against Zimbabwe, which were imposed in 2001, have not had the desired effect of causing regime change. Instead, they have only managed to hinder the country’s businesspeople from conducting trade with other nations —thanks to the misnamed Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA).

In renewing the sanctions, successive US administrations have cited the “unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States” that Zimbabwe poses but we fail to see how a tiny country such as ours would threaten the mighty America. We view these punitive measures as a smokescreen to topple a legitimately elected Government by a superpower doing the bidding of an ally — in this case the British government which has a long running bilateral dispute with Harare over the land reform programme.

During his two terms as President, Mr Obama did virtually nothing to engage Zimbabwe despite numerous overtures from the latter. In fact, the European Union is on a better footing in its relations with Zimbabwe due to the ongoing re-engagement efforts and we hope the Trump administration will follow suit. In this vein, we are encouraged by the pledge by Mr Trump to scale down on US interference in other nations’ internal affairs and focus on making America great again.

We feel this is a more progressive stance which will find traction with the likes of Zimbabwe and other weaker, smaller states. President Mugabe has always said Zimbabwe has no quarrel with the US and its people but has a problem with the internationalisation of a purely bilateral historical dispute between Britain and its former colony.

President-elect Trump has hinted on reversing some of the Executive decisions made by the Obama administration and cited the Russian imbroglio as one of the issues he intends to tackle head-on in his first days in office. We urge him to add Zimbabwe to his in-tray and reconsider the sanctions on Harare because they serve no purpose.

We are a peaceful country posing absolutely no threat to the US or its interests and we feel we have been unfairly treated by the UK, US and their allies.

Zimbabwe deserves to return to the community of nations where it will be treated as an equal partner not as an appendage or colony. We call on the incoming Trump administration to repeal ZDERA and lift all form of sanctions against Zimbabwe. We also urge them to approach all future engagements with an open mind as Zimbabwe is prepared to start afresh on a clean slate. The country and its people deserve a break.

Article Source: The Chronicle