Friday 8 March 2019


Zimbabwe’s permanent secretary in the ministry of information Nick Mangwana has defended his government's US$500,000 deal with a United States-based lobby firm canvassing for the removal of targeted sanctions imposed on top Zanu PF officials to be removed by Washington.

But human activists have criticised the deal as a waste of scarce resources in a country where more than 5 million people are food insecure.

Zimbabwe has engaged a man regarded as the most powerful lobbyist in Washington, Brian Ballard, linked to President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign and the president’s 2020 re-election bid. His mission is to have targeted sanctions on 141 individuals and entities in Zimbabwe removed.

Mangwana told VOA Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Zimbabwe prioritises international engagement.

“What I can only say is that Zimbabwe is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to ensure that the illegal sanctions imposed upon the nation are removed. So we are doing everything that’s possible, everything that is legal to make sure that the livelihoods of Zimbabweans are improved, and we can only do if we can trade freely, if we can be able to sell our minerals at the appropriate price, on the open market, rather to go using third parties and so forth, losing money. Buying things and selling at a premium. It doesn’t work. So we need sanctions removed.”

U.S-based newspaper Politico reports that former State Department official in the Bill Clinton administration, James Rubin, will be the lead lobbyist for Zimbabwe.

Director of Vanguard Africa Jeff Smith criticized the deal saying it shows everything that is wrong about Washington DC.

“I think in summation, it really is a very apt manifestation of all that is wrong with Washington DC at this point. You have this lobby firm with obvious close links to the administration representing one of the more repressive countries, not only in Africa but the entire world – this is a government that has opened fire on its citizens in the streets, it has brazenly disregarded regional and international norms and standards, for four decades now. People point to the fact that there is a new president at the helm but lest we forget, he’s been there or was there, by the side of president Robert Mugabe for four decades, so this is nothing new in terms of the dispensation in Harare, but definitely a new development in terms of the battleground and their new allies here in Washington DC.”


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