By John Chimunhu|
Now Daily Opinion|
US president Barack Obama on Wednesday slapped the world’s worst dictator, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, with more sanctions.
The measures include a symbolic travel ban (who, among the world’s rulers doesn’t want to strut the White House red carpet?) and an asset freeze (which despot doesn’t want to own a Holywood mansion?!). Obama’s announcement was greeted with disdain by Mugabe officials in Harare. As information minister Jonathan Moyo once told the regime’s journalists, Mugabe is not so worried about shopping for his wife, Grace Mugabe’s Gucci shoes or the reported jet, as he is about their children not getting the quality of education dictators think their children deserve. That alone, Moyo quipped, was causing many blacklisted ministers problems with their wives.
As the ban on Mugabe, his wife and officials was being announced Wednesday, the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, David Bruce Wharton was rolling out statistics showing trade relations improved over the past year.
“U.S. -Zimbabwe bilateral trade grew by about 50 percent between 2013 and 2014,” Wharton said. “In 2013 it was $74 million; in 2014 it increased to $113 million. The trade balance is heavily in Zimbabwe’s favor ($65 million in exports to the U.S., $49 Million in imports from the U.S.) We will work to boost the overall numbers, and to increase the availability of U.S. goods and services in Zimbabwe.”
There is much skepticism about the impact of the sanctions on the regime, however. In 2001, when the likes of US Senator Jesse Helms and others were pressing George W. Bush to act on Mugabe, the objective was somehow straightforward: get Mugabe out of government, help form a democratic government, restore order.
Today the overall objective seems clouded in a diplomatic fog. Human rights appears to have been replaced with trade, leading to numerous questions about US intentions in Zimbabwe.
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