On Wednesday, the United States Senate House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights held hearings on post-Mugabe Zimbabwe. Dr Chipo Dendere, a Zimbabwean who is resident in the United States, and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Amherst College urged the United States to lift sanctions on Zimbabwean state-owned companies as this was hurting the poor and vulnerable. However, Dr Dendere called for the sanctions on individuals to remain as most of the individuals had committed horrible crimes against humanity which need to be investigated. She also urged the United States to provide more clarity on the United States’ Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) as it was causing confusion both inside and outside Zimbabwe.
Said Dr Dendere:
…I have recommended that the United States provide clarity on the types of business to business engagements acceptable within the confines of ZIDERA. I would also recommend that the United States support efforts by Zimbabweans asking for debt relief from international funding agencies including the World Bank and IMF. Such efforts will bring much-needed relief to millions of Zimbabweans, especially farmers, who could increase food production if they have access to credit.
….recommend that the United States reconsider sanctions on state-owned businesses. I recognize that the United States has long been concerned with the link between ZANU PF and state enterprises. Indeed, much of the corruption I discussed earlier has occurred in state-owned businesses. However, it is my expert opinion that in the post-Mugabe era parliament has been bolstered in their independence and are better-equipped hold government officials account. I would like to draw attention to those parastatals engaged in agriculture and mining industries. Most smallholder farmers depend heavily on funding from the state-funded agriculture bank which in turn depends on support from big financial institutions.
…Regarding individual sanctions; the onus is on those listed to prove their commitment to democracy. Many on the list have allegedly committed horrible crimes against humanity. It would be a greater injustice to uplift these sanctions before a thorough investigation has been conducted. Zimbabwe
cannot have economic growth divorced from addressing human rights abuses. Robert Mugabe’s exit from politics is not enough to absolve individual crimes.