Zimbabwe’s political leaders have brought economic ruin on the country through corruption and human rights abuses, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Harare said on Saturday as she rejected government claims that Western sanctions are to blame.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has declared October 25 an “anti-sanctions day” as it seeks international solidarity to get the sanctions lifted – but there is no consensus on their effect on the economy.
“What needs to be said: it’s not sanctions, it’s corruption that drives away investors and leaves teachers, doctors, nurses and services struggling,” Melanie Robinson said in a series of tweets.
She added: “Sanctions don’t hurt ordinary citizens. Zimbabweans must be free to expose corruption, rights abuses and see perpetrators face justice.”
The European Union maintains an arms embargo on Zimbabwe while the United States has a travel ban and asset freeze in place, targeting Mnangagwa and dozens of his lieutenants who are accused of rights abuses.
Brian Nichols, the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, on Friday said “anti-sanctions” events scheduled for Sunday are a “hollow” exercise for as long as Mnangagwa’s regime does not reform.
“The anti-sanctions events are very much designed to distract the people of Zimbabwe from the real causes of the problems in this country,” Nichols told journalists in Harare.
“I think if the government of Zimbabwe put the energy that they put into organising these types of events and generating statements from other SADC members into pursuing the reform agenda the better.
“The government of Zimbabwe campaigned and talked about reform three years ago in November 2017 and 2018 at the inauguration of President Mnangagwa. If they have events on the reform agenda and the conditions, the restrictive measures that the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and others have imposed would be met.
“I think this is a hollow exercise in that it does not solve the interests of the people of Zimbabwe.”
In a tweet on Sunday, the United States embassy in Harare said: “Zimbabwe falls short of its potential due to corruption and mismanagement by those in power and the government’s abuse of its own citizens, not targeted sanctions.”