The Ambassador of the United States of America (USA) to Botswana, His Excellency, Mr. Craig Cloud, paid a courtesy call on the Executive Secretary of Southern African Development Community (SADC), Her Excellency Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, on 28 January 2020. H.E. Ambassador Cloud indicated that the objective of his request to meet the Executive Secretary was to apprise on the US support to Zimbabwe, and a follow-up on sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
On support to Zimbabwe, the Ambassador indicated that the US Government has provided support of more than US$300 million in 2019. The Ambassador also presented the US view on sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, indicating that the sanctions were only targeted on 141 individuals and entities in Zimbabwe. In addition, Ambassador Cloud said that under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA), the US is prevented from voting in support of Zimbabwe’s application for international financial support. H.E. Ambassador Cloud added that this provision of ZIDERA has not been exercised as Zimbabwe is currently in arrears that prevent the country from accessing loans from international financial institutions (IFIs).
In response, Her Excellency Dr. Tax thanked the US Government for the continued support, not only to Zimbabwe, but to the entire SADC region, and went further to say that there is need to address the root courses of the challenges experienced in Zimbabwe, mainly poverty. She further indicated that while SADC appreciates the support given to non-State actors, it is also important for the US to support the Government of Zimbabwe and the ongoing reforms to ensure that the country progresses.
Her Excellency Dr. Tax observed that while elections were conducted in Zimbabwe, and the Constitutional Court made a determination on the election results, it was unfortunate that the issue of legitimacy still continued to be advanced by certain parties. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders to observe the court ruling, respect the arms of government and guiding legislation, and work together for the prosperity of the country, Her Excellency Dr. Tax said.
On sanctions, the SADC Executive Secretary noted that, while it is said that the US sanctions are targeted on the 141 individuals and entities, it is important to recognise the economic impacts of sanctions on the Zimbabwean economy and Zimbabweans, taking into account that some of the entities under sanctions contribute greatly to the economy of Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, the Executive Secretary emphasised the importance of lifting sanctions, noting that even though the US have not exercised the voting provision of ZIDERA to oppose application for finance, Zimbabwe has not been granted special dispensation, unlike other countries that have not fully serviced their debts.
Her Excellency Dr. Tax presented Ambassador Cloud with a detailed analysis of the impact of the sanctions on Zimbabwe and the SADC region, as detailed in the SADC Statement on the sanctions which was released on 25 October 2019, and urged the US to reconsider their position on the sanctions, and to support Zimbabwe in the country’s economic recovery process.
Ambassador Cloud also raised his Government’s concerns about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, and the Executive Secretary advised the Ambassador to engage directly with the Zimbabwean Government to obtain a full understanding of the issues.
The Ambassador also pointed out the Zimbabwe land reform programme, specifically on the issue of non-compensation to former farm owners. On this, Her Excellency Dr. Tax emphasised the need for the full implementation of the Lancaster House Agreement, and called upon all signatories to the Accord to implement it to the letter.
At the continental level, the Parties also engaged on other matters of regional importance, including the complementary relationship between the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Tripartite Free Trade Area involving SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the East African Community (EAC).
GABORONE, 29 January 2020