Zimbabwe has a new government after the ousting of late President Robert Mugabe who was ranked among African icons like Muammar Gaddafi and Thomas Sankara.
After three decades in power, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe was in tatters when he was deposed in a bloodless coup that shocked the world, especially the West.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over, is still restless, and Zimbabwe’s economy has stagnated. Mnangagwa was the protege, comrade and right arm of the late former President Robert Mugabe. While Mugabe was notoriously stubborn, Mnangagwa is said to be more flexible in his approach, if only to achieve his goals. Mnangagwa is arguably more pragmatic and flexible than Mugabe.
Whatever his faults, Mugabe was undoubtedly a powerful orator, comfortable stirring up a crowd or discussing sensitive diplomatic issues with world leaders. The same cannot be said of Mnangagwa.
Mugabe could be counted on every year for an acid blast in the United States and in others for perceived interference. Africa has always been enthusiastic about these punishments. According to an article published by News24 on September 29, 2018, Mnangagwa left Mugabe venom at the UN in 2018 and stuck to the serious language of “peace, unity and tolerance” as he insisted that Zimbabwe was “open for business”.
Relations with neighboring countries
Emerson Mnangagwa’s accession to power as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe saw a thaw in relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana. Both countries appear to have pressed the reset button regarding the nature of their relationship characterized by distrust, tension, conflict, suspicion and hostility between Robert Mugabe and Ian Khama.
The relationship between the leaders of the two countries during the Mugabe era was frosty and strained characterized by animosity. It can be shown that the Zimbabwean President never made a state visit to Botswana during Khama’s rule.
Mugabe’s rhetoric and brand of politics did not sit well with young Khama who represented a new breed and generation of Southern African rulers and leaders, Khama squarely blamed the putrefaction at the feet of Robert Mugabe whom he publicly chastised and criticized for having been in power for too long, for bad governance, corruption and a slowdown in the country and its economy.
He resented what he saw as interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs and the fact that the criticism came from someone younger than him. He considered himself a former statesman and a representative of Pan-Africanism. He felt that Khama’s rebukes and criticisms were unseemly and un-African.
President Mnangagwa and President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana met in Victoria Falls earlier this year to officially open the third session of the Zimbabwe-Botswana Binational Commission to advance and implement the agreements. Another program was to oversee the signing of memorandums of understanding in a multitude of sectors as neighbors deepen their relationship.
Economic situation and sanctions
In a report, Afrobarometer said Zimbabwe’s economy has been characterized by runaway inflation and a constantly devaluing currency. Although hyperinflation peaked in 2008-2009, it is still estimated to be nearly 800% per year, and the currency is performing dismal against the US dollar, which is also used in the country’s day-to-day commerce. , and other currencies.
On the economic situation, two major explanations are opposed. The first school of thought attributes the country’s economic malaise to sanctions imposed by Western countries. The second blames government mismanagement and corruption. President Mnangagwa, like his predecessor, attributes the country’s plight to US and EU government sanctions.
At the dawn of his administration, President Mnangagwa vowed to tackle the country’s human rights record, targeting those who oppress political activists and the opposition, supporters of political parties, during elections. He also said his government would put in place economic policies that favor foreign investment. His mantra was “Zimbabwe is open for business”. In its quest to regain its former glory, the Zimbabwean government has proposed economic policies such as the Look East policy and indigenization, but they have not yielded results.
Mnangagwa’s administration rallied anti-sanctions sentiments, embarking on a policy of re-engagement and the mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business”. But the sanctions remained in place.
According to Afrobarometer, Mnangagwa was successful in mobilizing support against the sanctions. In October 2019, leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed to campaign for the lifting of sanctions, arguing that they are destabilizing Zimbabwe’s economy and hurting the region. ZimEye reported a group of ZANU-PF supporters camped near the US Embassy in Harare on March 29, 2019 and vowed to stay put until sanctions were lifted.
Yet an economic analyst, Masimba Manyanya, told The Africa Report that Zimbabwe is subject to its sanctions in the form of bad governance, corruption and theft by political and government leaders, not sanctions imposed by the West under the ZIDERA law.
“The most damaging sanction in Zimbabwe is the governance crisis that has spawned a politically connected trade union that is draining the economy through corruption and illicit financial flows,” he said.
In October last year, a UN special rapporteur said the sanctions had aggravated Zimbabwe’s “pre-existing social and economic challenges” and called for “meaningful and structured dialogue” to replace targeted sanctions to promote political reform and human rights.
According to a New Zimbabwe article published on March 4, 2022, just recently US President Joe Biden said his administration would maintain the embargo for another year. He added that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime was implementing policies that threatened US foreign policy.
“The actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and others aimed at undermining Zimbabwe’s democratic processes continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to United States foreign policy,” he said. .
“For this reason, the national emergency declared on March 6, 2003 and the measures adopted on that date, November 22, 2005 and July 25, 2008 to deal with this emergency must continue beyond March 6, 2022. . therefore, pursuant to Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 USC 1622(d)), I maintain for one year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288,” he said.
In a related article published by the Herald on October 11, 2019, the United States of America imposed sanctions under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) of 2001. The US legislative sanctions against ZIDERA are supplemented by executive sanctions (Executive Order 13288) of March 2003 renewable each year.
The European Union has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe. The regulations impose an asset freeze on identified individuals who are and have been involved in the commission of serious human rights violations or abuses, the repression of civil society and democratic opposition, or other actions, policies or activities that undermine democracy or the rule of law. law in Zimbabwe.
According to an article published by Europeansactions on March 9, 2022, Zimbabwe was first sanctioned by the European Union in 2002, through Common Position 2002/145/CFSP. This was linked to the escalation of violence and intimidation of political opponents and harassment of the independent press. Sanctions included an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on targeted individuals and entities.
The current EU sanctions regime against Zimbabwe is imposed in accordance with amended Council Regulation (EC) No 314/2004 and amended Council Decision 2011/101/CFSP and also consists of an embargo on weapons and a targeted asset freeze and travel bans.
In January 2021, the UK passed the Zimbabwe (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. Aiming to encourage the Government of Zimbabwe to uphold democratic principles and institutions and the rule of law, to refrain from actions , policies or activities that suppress civil society in Zimbabwe, comply with international human rights law and respect human rights.