A United States senator says Washington must abandon any misguided belief that it can negotiate with Zimbabwe’s current leaders and must instead forge a coalition to remove the present government.
Senator Jim Risch of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday said:“It is clear the Mnangagwa regime is entrenched. The United States must abandon any misguided belief that it can negotiate with Zimbabwe’s current leaders, who have a lengthy history of human rights abuses, corrupt practices, and anti-democratic actions spanning over two decades. It’s past time the Biden Administration amplify its condemnation of this severe repression.
“The United States should use every diplomatic avenue to forge a coalition of regional and global partners to act in support of the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe, and who will not ignore the government’s manipulation of the dire democratic, economic, and humanitarian situation for its corrupt benefit.”
Risch’s statement follows a court ruling which endorsed the recall of 15 Members of Parliament, nine Senators and 17 councillors by Citizens Coalition for Change interim secretary general Sengezo Tshabangu. Nominations to fill the seats closed today.
In his statement Risch said over the last year, Zimbabwe has been caught in a continuous cycle of oppression under the leadership of President Mnangagwa. His regime is characterised by the silencing of criticism, rampant corruption, and clinging to power through illegitimate methods.
“The government has compromised the integrity of elections by resorting to violence, coercion, and exerting undue influence on electoral proceedings. The regime has failed to meet the democratic standards set by local and regional bodies, including the Southern African Development Community, especially during the August general elections.
“Recent efforts by the Mnangagwa Administration to disrupt the activities of the main opposition party have led to the expulsion of 15 opposition members of parliament (MPs) and the announcement of new by-elections. This strategy is consistent with past efforts to diminish the opposition’s influence in parliament.
“State-sponsored violence also continues, as evidenced by the abduction and torture of the nation’s youngest member of parliament, the Honorable Takudzwa Ngadziore, which mirrors the mistreatment of other opposition parliamentarians and youth leaders in 2020.
“The ongoing arrests and lengthy detentions of opposition figures, like Job Sikhala, on often questionable and politically-motivated grounds, illustrate how the government uses the legal system to suppress the opposition and other critical voices.”
The United States has been fighting for regime change since 2001 when it enacted the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act. US president Joe Biden and former Secretary of State and former First Lady Hilary Clinton were among the sponsors of the bill.
United States organisations sent to observe the August elections said they were flawed but the Southern African Development Community has cleared them urging other countries holding elections this year to emulate the Zimbabwe and Eswatini example.