A UNITED States Senator, Chris Coons, has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of making empty promises and deliberately delaying implementation of key electoral reforms to disadvantage the opposition ahead of the general elections slated for the end of next month.
Coons, who has been campaigning for lifting of US sanctions on Zimbabwe told CGNTV News recently that Mnangagwa had failed to back up his talk with action, creating an unequal ground for his rivals in this year’s polls.
“President Mnangagwa, both through our personal meeting, which was positive and terrific and very long, and in public statements, both in Press conferences afterwards and in an editorial published in the New York Times has committed to democracy towards free and fair elections, towards respecting human rights, towards returning to a world based open economy if he takes those steps significant sanctions relief should be forthcoming from United States and Senator Jeff Flake and I will take steps necessary in Congress to accomplish that,” he said.
“But frankly, after what was a very encouraging initial meeting several weeks ago, we have seen no concrete steps in response, the amount of time left before the elections is shrinking, so the importance of taking prompt concrete steps, as to demonstrate the President’s commitment to democracy is becoming more and more important.”
Coons said the conditions in Zimbabwe, just two months before elections, did not meet Sadc standards for free and fair elections and Mnangagwa should act if he wants a significant shift on US policy on his government.
“There is less and less time for the President to take concrete action, it has been wonderful to hear his encouraging private and public comments about welcoming international observers about publishing the list of those who are enrolled for the vote, of identifying the list of places where polling will take place, providing access to State media for opposition candidates, a whole variety of things that are basic indicates for free and fair elections, but not steps have been taken yet at least not that I am aware of, they has been some encouraging initial meetings with opposition parties, but no concrete steps, so whether you look at EU (European Union) standards, AU (African Union) standards, Sadc standards, there are standards for free and fair elections that don’t vary significantly, I urge President Mnangagwa to do the right thing,” he said.
Coons’s remarks come as Italian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Enrico de Agostini yesterday challenged Mnangagwa to stop economic sloganeering by announcing the so called “mega deals” at the expense of implementing actual economic reforms .
Addressing guests at Italy’s National Day commemorations in Harare at the weekend, de Agostini warned that investors will not flock to the streets of Harare unless “crucial economic reforms are implemented and not just announced”.
“Economic recovery won’t happen overnight, investors won’t flock to the streets of Harare just yet, not unless crucial economic reforms are implemented and not just announced.
“If Zimbabwe truly wants to be open for business, and we all know it does, it must concentrate more on actual economic reforms and less on the so called mega deals,” he said.
Mnangagwa has claimed that his government has unlocked investment pledges worth over $15 billion since he took over power last November, although there is nothing much on the ground to prove his claims.
“The substance of this slogan can be fully realised only once Zimbabwe ratifies Bippas (Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements), international obligations that it undertook 20 years ago, solves the problem of land tenure, lowers the cost of doing business and abandons the culture of State intervention,” de Agostini said.
He hailed the decision to scrap the “myopic” indigenisation policy that mandated locals to own a 51% stake in all businesses, but insisted that only a credible election would set the country on an economic recovery path.