The United States is closely watching events in Zimbabwe, following what U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price called “troubling moves.”
On March 17, the Vice President of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, or MDC Alliance, Tendai Biti and other MDC Alliance members were stripped of their elected seats in Zimbabwe’s Parliament.
This means that since March 2020, parliamentary maneuvers supported by the Zimbabwean government have led to the ouster of 39 MDC Alliance MPs, as well as 81 local elected officials. “These actions,” said Spokesperson Price in a statement, “subvert the will of voters, further undermine democracy, and deny millions of Zimbabwean citizens their chosen representation.”
On March 3, President Joe Biden renewed for another year targeted sanctions against certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and others who “undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions.” In a notice to the U.S. Congress renewing sanctions first put in place in 2003 by Executive Order 13288, President Biden wrote that the actions and policies of the those sanctioned “had contributed to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Zimbabwe, to politically motivated violence and intimidation in that country, and to political and economic instability in the southern African region.”
As the ousting of MDC Alliance members continues in Zimbabwe, Spokesperson Price declared that the United States is also monitoring “efforts by the government to dismantle the MDC Alliance through the arrest and detention of its leaders and diversion of its assets.” In addition, he wrote, the United States notes “the government’s selective enforcement of COVID-19 regulations to indefinitely postpone by-elections and prohibit MDC Alliance gatherings, while permitting internal elections and gatherings for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front, (ZANU-PF) party and its allies to go forward.
“The ZANU-PF is misusing the levers of government to silence critics, neutralize opposition, and entrench its political power over the Zimbabwean people,” said Spokesperson Price. “We call on the Government of Zimbabwe to comply with its obligation to respect the freedoms of expression and association enshrined in Zimbabwe’s constitution and its international commitments.”