The United States is tightening financial sanctions against the government of Zimbabwe. President George W. Bush issued an executive order that will increase the number of individuals under sanctions, make it easier to target companies connected to government leaders; and give U.S. authorities the power to impose sanctions on the spouses and children of top Zimbabwean officials.
The sanctions are in response to clear signs that the government of President Robert Mugabe is not serious about restoring democratic freedoms. The blatant rigging of the March parliamentary elections showed that the government has contempt for democracy. The destruction of tens of thousands of low-income homes – the so-called Operation Murambatsvina showed that the government has contempt for Zimbabwe’s people.
U.S. sanctions are not aimed at the general economy and do not impose an economic “blockade” on Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean firms not connected to government leaders are free to do business with American firms; Americans firms are free to invest in and trade with Zimbabwe, so long as they avoid business deals with top officials. Moreover, the United States will still provide humanitarian aid and help Zimbabwe confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Since 2002, the U.S. has provided more than three-hundred-million dollars of food assistance to Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans should not suffer because of the crimes of their leadership.
The government of Zimbabwe is lying when it blames the country’s economic collapse on sanctions. The economy is collapsing because of government corruption, mismanagement, and the undermining of the rule of law. In Zimbabwe today, government cronies get farms while food prices are soaring. Ruling party insiders get contracts while fuel is in short supply. Government ministers take trips abroad while inflation eats up salaries of ordinary people.
Zimbabwe, says President Bush, "has not been a good case study for democracy in a very important part of the world." The suffering of the Zimbabwean people will not end until Zimbabwe has a real political dialogue and accountable, transparent government.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.