Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter—
Government has castigated the United States for meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs in a way that seeks to weaken the country’s sovereign status and reverse its successful land reform programme. This was after the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations chairman Mr Bob Corker wrote a letter to that country’s secretary for Treasury Mr Jacob Lew on January 28, 2016 urging the US government to use its influence at the Bretton Woods institutions to block any new lending to Zimbabwe until the country met Washington’s preferred conditions.
The terms were listed as restoration of the rule of law, electoral reforms, the reversal of land reform and security sector reform. New lending to Zimbabwe by the global financial institutions is based on the country’s international debt clearance strategy presented recently by Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Among other conditions, Mr Corker said any new lending to Zimbabwe should be preceded by what he called clear benchmarks for the restoration of the rule of law, credible process of accountability for missing revenue from diamonds and official acknowledgement of alleged past gross human rights abuses.
Reacting to Mr Corker’s letter yesterday, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe said the letter confirmed attempts by the US to meddle in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.
Minister Mushohwe said by making such absurd proposals, the US also inadvertently admitted that its sanctions on Zimbabwe were real, contrary to the claim that they were targeted.
“The letter dated 28 January, 2016, by Bob Corker, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, to the US Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob Lew, concerning Zimbabwe’s efforts at clearing her arrears and securing new lines of credit from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the African Development Bank once again reveals and confirms US attempts at gross interference in the internal politics of our country, Zimbabwe, contrary to norms of international relations,” he said.
“Much worse, it reveals US control of what are supposed to be international financial institutions, including seeking to turn regime change in independent-minded African countries like Zimbabwe.
“The statement leaves no one in doubt about the reality of country sanctions, contrary to claims that these are targeted, or that Zimbabwe is being denied lines of credit for failing to service its arrears.
“What lies at the heart of the US foreign policy towards Zimbabwe, is the vain hope for regime change through sanctions-aggravated social conditions, which the US hopes will benefit the opposition. “The ultimate objective is to reverse the land reform (programme) and to weaken Zimbabwe’s status as a sovereign, independent African state.”
Minister Mushohwe said it was also clear that the claims of re-engagement by the US were mere rhetoric. Said Minister Mushohwe: “Much worse, it leaves Government with the impression that the impending visit by the US congressmen is a side drama bereft of any real serious constructive intentions.
“Zimbabweans are reminded once more to look in other directions for economic recovery and assistance, including intensifying the Look East Policy thrust as well as concentrating on internally generated recovery through Zim-Asset.”
In his letter, Mr Corker made it clear that he was not happy with the Government of Zimbabwe as led by President Mugabe. He claimed any new lending without “reforms” could alter political dynamics in Zimbabwe and help to entrench President Mugabe’s rule.
“I write regarding reports that the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank may proceed with a process to allow for clearance of the Government of Zimbabwe’s $1,9 billion in unpaid arrears to those institutions,” said Mr Corker.
“While the willingness of a country to meet its debt obligations should normally be embraced, in this case, arrears clearance will allow for new lending to the Government of Zimbabwe. Without meaningful progress toward long-awaited reforms by the Mugabe regime, new lending could significantly alter internal political dynamics and help entrench the very same individuals responsible for the economic collapse and gross human rights violations.
“This is a moment when Zimbabwe’s political future is highly uncertain but history has shown little prospect for genuine progress and great likelihood of further repression and mis-governance.
“The administration should use its voice and vote at these international financial institutions as well as its influence with creditors to ensure that any new lending to the Government of Zimbabwe, including lending intended to relieve existing barriers to lending, be preceded by meaningful progress toward clear benchmarks for the restoration of the rule of law in Zimbabwe, including respect for private property, free press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, a credible process of accountability for missing revenue from diamonds and a monitored plan for capturing future revenues and official acknowledgement of past gross human rights abuses and a demonstration that the Government of Zimbabwe is prepared to make an earnest effort to remedy those abuses such as clear steps to hold accountable those responsible for the massacres of more than 20 000 people in Matabeleland in the 1980s and for the disappearance in March, 2015 of human rights activist Itai Dzamara.”
Mr Corker further said: “Current law requires the President to make a number of certifications including the restoration of the rule of law in Zimbabwe, satisfactory election conditions in that country, equitable, legal and transparent land reform and the subordination of the security force to civilian authority as the necessary conditions for a US vote in support of Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance at an international financial institution. We urge the Treasury to act quickly to raise the lack of clear meaningful governance and economic reforms with the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank and to encourage creditors to require such reforms before supporting any new lending to the Government of Zimbabwe.”
Seasoned diplomat with respected acumen in international relations Cde Chris Mutsvangwa took a swipe on the stance taken by the US. Said Cde Mutsvangwa: “This is neo-imperial nostalgia by those who still wear the garb of a by-gone era when they craved the role of masters of the universe.
“The world has since moved with the economic dominance that was the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Group of Seven in inexorable retreat. In pleasing ascendancy is the G20 that embraces global second economy China, India and other emergent economic players.
“The current re-engagement in financial diplomacy with the IMF and other Bretton Woods institutions is only possible because gritty Zimbabwe and its plucky populace have defied odds to survive and dispense with the nemesis of regime change.
“We are not objects of the largesse of charity by tormentors turned benefactors. Lest those vindictive congressmen note, Zimbabwe is a bona fide member of the global financial community and is negotiating that which we are rightly entitled to.”