A year after a transitional government was created in Zimbabwe to resolve the nation's long-running political crisis, some progress has been made in economic reform and other areas. Some in government, though, continue to undermine the country's democratic processes and institutions. They also limit political opening and respect for fundamental freedoms. To maintain pressure on Mugabe for further reforms, the United States is joining others in the international community in extending targeted sanctions against him and his key supporters.
The sanctions don't include broad restrictions against the country or the people of Zimbabwe. Since the U.S. adopted this targeted approach in 2003, bilateral trade with Zimbabwe has increased each year, doubling from 2003 to the present. Many U.S. companies do business with Zimbabwe. Indeed, the United States is the largest single source of needed food and medical aid for its citizens.
Rather, by banning travel and freezing the overseas assets of Mugabe, his close relatives and the individuals and companies supporting the regime’s undemocratic policies, the message should be clear that hindering democracy and plundering national resources carry a high personal cost.
This hasn't been lost on Mugabe, who has attempted to hold democratic reforms hostage in his dealings with both his partners in the transitional government and other nations. The international community cannot yield, since his undemocratic actions and policies pose an extraordinary threat to U.S. foreign policies. To respond to this threat, President Barack Obama said March 1 that he would extend targeted sanctions for another year.
If Mugabe finds this harsh, the means to resolve the crisis rest entirely his hands. The U.S. expects him to act in good faith, that he fully implement the Global Political Agreement that he signed, foster democracy, and respect the rule of law and human rights in his nation.