FORMER United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray says more top Zanu PF and government officials need to be added on the sanctions list so that they reform and respect the tenets of democracy.
Ray served at the United States ambassador to Harare from 2009 to 2012 and occasionally clashed with the late former President Robert Mugabe over targeted sanctions imposed on alleged human rights abuses.
Speaking during a discussion on the impact of Zimbabwe’s elections on US foreign policy last week, Ray said there was no behavioural change on individuals who were put on sanctions in Zimbabwe, hence the need to extend and add more names onto the list.
“Zimbabwe has done nothing that would justify the lifting of sanctions. I stressed the term targeted; these sanctions are targeted at individuals and individual entities and one of the issues that always bothers me is the fact that Zimbabwe has done nothing to justify any movement in general.
“I think looking at individuals who are on the sanctions list and looking at individuals who are not on the sanctions list and then making adjustments will send a pragmatic but principle signal that we are trying to use these sanctions for what we said and that is to change behaviour.
“We might not be able to change the behaviour of the whole government but we can address the behaviour of those individuals who are on the sanctions list,”
Ray said there was a need to put fresh sanctions on some few individuals in Zimbabwe.
“I’m looking at events over the last eight or 10 years since I left Zimbabwe, at a number of individuals who haven’t been put on the sanctions list.
“I think we could start to change the equation just a bit. Whether it will change it, substantially, remains to be seen and it certainly won’t happen overnight but that would be I think a way to stand on our principles but also act pragmatic at the same time,”
Ray also added that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime had not done much to justify the removal of sanctions on him and other top officials.
He said the administration continues its crackdown on dissent, arresting and harassing opposition supporters adding that Mnangagwa and his ruling Zanu PF used violence and intimidation to rig the recently held general elections.
Speaking at the same event, Accountability Lab regional director for southern Africa McDonald Lewanika expressed concern over Mnangagwa’s introduction of repressive laws.
“Repressive pieces of legislation remain with us today. One of the things that I was reflecting on as I came to this conversation was actually that these are the kinds of conversations that we can actually get people arrested on account of what they call the Patriot Act in Zimbabwe,”
The Patriot Act was enacted in July as part of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act that seeks to gag people from engaging freely and openly.
“Those are the kinds of laws that are still in our midst … we have threats of a return of something called the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill, which has been on the terrain basically for the last two years.
“We can talk a bit more about that in prospects of it’s coming back under the new Parliament media freedoms a lot is still outstanding and the issues of civic space and democratic process themselves,”