While European Union sanctions are an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and an asset freeze of military company Zimbabwe Defence Industries, US sanctions are more comprehensive and cover more than 100 individuals and firms.
They also affect ordinary Zimbabweans and those not designated as the US controls the international payment system through the SWIFT interbank system.
SWIFT stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications.
Russia, which is also under US sanctions, as well as its eastern neighbours China and India are reportedly avoiding the SWIFT system by making payments in their local currencies.
According to a statement issued by US President Joe Biden yesterday, the US had extended its sanctions which came into effect on 6 March 2003 because Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa had not made the necessary political and economic reforms that would warrant terminating the existing targeted sanctions.
“Throughout the last year, government security services routinely intimidated and violently repressed citizens, including members of opposition political parties, union members, and journalists,” Biden said.
“The absence of progress on the most fundamental reforms needed to ensure the rule of law, democratic governance, and the protection of human rights leaves Zimbabweans vulnerable to ongoing repression and presents a continuing threat to the peace and security in the region.
“The actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.”
The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, which ushered in the sanctions against Zimbabwe, was enacted in 2001.
Biden, then a senator for Delaware and Hillary Clinton, also a senator for New York at the time, were among the main sponsors of ZIDERA.
According to the Herald the United States is reportedly dangling US$37 million to sponsor the opposition and non-governmental organisations to influence this year’s elections, now most likely to be held in August.
“As part of their scheme to influence the outcome of the elections, the NGOs in the country are set to deploy 11 000 opposition CCC activists, under the guise of monitors but whose true mandate is to trigger waves of violence in the event the poll results do not favour them,” the Herald said today.
United States deputy assistant secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs, Ambassador Robert Scott, arrived in Zimbabwe yesterday and reportedly said he was here to influence the forthcoming elections.
“I am here to engage in a series of meetings with Government, civil society and other actors in the political and social-economic arenas to listen, to take on board their messages to me and also to pass along our hopes from the US specifically for peaceful and inclusive elections, that will be the primary goal of my trip here,” the Herald quoted him as saying.