A United States of America official said that Harare will have to reform if sanctions are to be repealed. Reforms should include the media as well as reigning in on rogue security elements.
Addressing the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington recently, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Matthew Harrington, said:
Any goodwill from the international community that might have been generated by an improved election process dissipated as a result of several problematic developments.
… In addition, in January and February (2019) the army launched a sustained crackdown on citizens in response to their protests over fuel price increases.
We welcome a better relationship with Zimbabwe, but the ball is very much in the Zimbabwean government’s court.
If there’s real, concrete progress in the areas laid out in the ZDERA legislation, Zimbabwe will find a committed partner in the United States.
Harrington characterised the Zimbabwean government as good in rhetoric but very poor in action. He said:
The government are saying some of the right things but it is falling short when it comes to concrete actions.
There are some steps the government could take to demonstrate it is serious about improving the rule of law and respect for human rights in Zimbabwe.
It could repeal POSA (Public Order and Security Act) and AIPPA (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act), two laws long emblematic of a repressive regime.
It could stop using the army to harass and intimidate citizens who exercise their fundamental right to free speech, and it could hold accountable those members of the security services who have abused their fellow citizens.
Only by implementing genuine reform will the international community and Zimbabweans in the diaspora be convinced that the country has entered a new dispensation. Added Harrington:
Those simple actions would send a strong signal to Zimbabweans and the international community that Zimbabwe is on a very different path and genuinely committed to embracing democratic institutions and values, and to becoming a more responsible member of the international community.
And not one of those steps, I would point out, requires outside assistance. The government could take any one of them today.
The fact that it has chosen not to do so raises questions about the genuineness of its commitment to put the country on a much different trajectory.