Zimbabwe sanctions claim a ‘false narrative’, says US top Africa envoy

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Delivering message … Tibor Nagy met with President Mnangagwa in Mozambique in June

HARARE – The United States’ top diplomat in Africa, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs Tibor P. Nagy, took part in a telephonic post-United Nations General Assembly question and answer briefing with journalists from around the continent on Wednesday.

Nagy said the United States had a “problematic relationship” with the current government in Zimbabwe, but dismissed Zimbabwe government claims that there were sanctions on the country as a “false narrative”.

Nagy was speaking to journalists invited to various United States embassies around the continent.

Here is the question on Zimbabwe and his response:

QUESTION: Okay, good afternoon. My name is Muchemwa Norman from the Sunday Mail in Harare, Zimbabwe. And my question is as you mentioned earlier on that you hoped for Africa and that is an encouragement for American businesses to invest in Zimbabwe. You know that Zimbabwe is open for — in Africa, rather, you know that Zimbabwe is open for business. What measures are there in place for a win-win arrangement regarding the issue of investment for the benefit of the long-suffering Zimbabweans?

ASST. SEC. TIBOR NAGY: Well I love that question too because I’ve had occasions several times to have dialog at highest levels of your government and our dialogue has been very frank and honest and I’m not going to go into details because those are private discussions. But your leadership understands what the United States is looking for, before we can begin to have a normal, constructive, positive relationship with Zimbabwe.

Now, I told you guys this before, that I have a very special place in my heart for Zimbabwe because not only did I help open up the embassy there shortly after the Lancaster House Agreement in 1980, I think my vehicle was the second one to cross the Chirundu Bridge going from Zambia to Zimbabwe. So I really, really appreciate the country. I appreciate the tremendous talents, the positive attributes.

Unfortunately, it’s no secret, we have a problematic relationship with Zimbabwe. There’s the ZIDERA Act which restricts to a certain extent what the United States can and cannot do.

However, there’s a very false narrative out there which I want to correct. Some people say that the United States has sanctions against the country of Zimbabwe. We do not, repeat, do not have sanctions against the country of Zimbabwe. We have sanctions against certain individuals and certain corporations and there could be greater detail on that, but not against the country of Zimbabwe. There is nothing to stop U.S. businesses from investing in Zimbabwe, from going to Zimbabwe.

However, again, let’s be very frank. Zimbabwe has a reputational problem. We have great concerns over how the government treats its own citizens. We have great concerns over the space that’s available for democracy and governance in Zimbabwe. We have been alarmed with how the government has treated its own citizens.

So, those are the issues. But as I said, we’ve had very frank, honest and open discussions between ourselves and the highest levels of your government. So you know, hopefully, again, you know my dream and prayer is that we can have fully normalised positive relations with every country in Africa. And Zimbabwe is near the top of my wish list, given the personal connections I’ve had with your beautiful, beautiful country and your wonderful people. Zimlive

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