HARARE – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Friday told US President Joe Biden that sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the superpower two decades ago have affected his own country that continues to carry the burden of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.
Ramaphosa is in the US for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly next week.
He took the opportunity to call on Biden at the White House for talks on efforts to tackle the climate crisis, as well as ending the war in Ukraine.
Ramaphosa also sneaked in the long standing Zimbabwe sanctions issue in his engagement with the US leader.
According to media reports, the South African leader explained to President Biden that Zimbabwe sanctions affect other countries in the region as economic migrants are forced to leave the troubled neighbour in their droves to seek economic opportunities.
According to data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, South Africa, the continent’s most-industrialised nation, is officially home to 773 246 of the 908 913 Zimbabwean nationals that make up the diaspora.
There was no word on Biden’s response.
But the recent US decision to add Police Deputy Commissioner-General, Stephen Mutamba, to the sanctions list is testament to the superpower’s clear position on where it stood on Zimbabwe sanctions.
Mutamba was added “for his actions that undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes and institutions”.
In Twits via his handle, outspoken US Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said this week that the addition of Mutamba “is good, many key officials responsible for undermining Zim’s democracy remain missing”.
“Biden should use his meeting w/@CyrilRamaphosa to urge the gov’t of #SouthAfrica to end its blatant misinformation campaign about U.S. sanctions & use its regional leadership to support democratic reforms in #Zimbabwe,” he said.
South Africa, by virtue of its strong economy and democracy, has become the de facto regional leader widely expected to exercise its influence to force a change of behaviour next door.
However, the ANC government is accused of failure to do so.
This has resulted in growing restlessness among ordinary South Africans who have expressed their frustrations with the ANC government’s failure to act on Zimbabwe through targeting Zimbabwean migrants for horrendous acts of physical attacks.
The US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe accusing the then Robert Mugabe led administration of poll fraud, human rights abuses and unbridled high level corruption.
The measures include a travel ban and asset freeze on some top officials within Zimbabwe’s government and the security establishments.
However, the Zanu PF administration is adamant the measures were imposed as punishment after Harare took the bold step to grab vast tracts of arable land from the hands of white Zimbabweans of European decent for redistribution to the country’s previously disadvantaged native black population without compensation.