PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s dream to end Zimbabwe’s over two-decade-long international isolation suffered yet another blow after the United states gave a damning assessment of his government’s human rights record, political analysts say.
Mnangagwa, who took over from the late Robert Mugabe following a military coup in 2007 amid promises of a “new and unfolding democracy”, made re-engagement with the West as the centerpiece of his government’s foreign policy.
His administration hired Western public relations firms to lobby Washington to soften its stance on Zimbabwe after the Us sanctioned the Mugabe regime for alleged human rights violations and electoral fraud.
Relations between Harare and Washington, however, have remained frosty with new Us President Joe Biden renewing targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe last month citing Mnangagwa’s reluctance to reform.
A damning country report on human rights practices in 2020 by the Us department of state’s Bureau of democracy, Human rights and Labour released last week singled out Zimbabwe as one of the countries where the human rights situation is deteriorating.
The report raised alleged red flag over gross human rights violations that include torture and other degrading treatment of government critics by security forces.
Blessing Vava, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director, said prospects of re-engagement with the West were diminished by the government’s reluctance to reform and continuing human rights violations.
“The re-engagement process failed at the very moment when the Mnangagwa administration embarked on an onslaught of human rights abuses, beginning with the August 1 shootings, then the January 2019 protests,” Vava said.
“It thus shows that the re-engagement itself is insincere and a waste of time because the regime has absolutely no appetite to re form.”
Wellington gadzikwa, a University of Zimbabwe media studies lecturer, said the Biden administration will not entertain any reengagement manoeuvres with Harare without any credible reforms.
Gadzikwa said the re-engagement process was “dead”.
“It means the re-engagement as was pushed by (the late Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso) SB moyo might as well have died with him and I don’t think it is still viable,” he said.
“It also seems Zimbabwe is no longer that keen on re-engagement, especially with the Biden administration.
“(The Biden administration) is clear on human rights unlike the Trump administration, which was more focused on business.
“Zimbabwe’s re-engagement efforts will not work as proposed because the Us places emphasis on respect for human rights.
“We are still a long way to go in terms of re-engagement and it must also imply how the USA influences its allies like the United Kingdom to maintain the same stance against Harare.”
Lovemore madhuku, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader, said although human rights violations were a major problem in Zimbabwe, there was no need for the Us to sanction the country.
“The findings of the United states on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe are correct and everyone wants a situation where we don’t continue on that path,” Madhuku said.
“The re-engagement efforts must not be affected by the human rights issues.
“There must continue to be re-engagement, but the fact that there are human rights abuses must not justify the continuation of sanctions.”
The NCA leader, who is part of Mnangagwa’s controversial Political Actors dialogue (Polad) platform, said the only way to address the human rights issue was to push for reforms.
“Their approach to punish by imposing sanctions is not the way,” Madhuku added.