US puts President Mnangagwa in tight spot over soldiers who killed civilians during protests

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A TOP United States official has told President Emmerson Mnangagwa that he must hold to account members of the security forces involved in the killing of civilians during public disturbances in August last year and January this year.

The US also wants Mnangagwa to implement real political and economic reforms if his administration hoped to assuage the stiff conditions spelt out in its Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera). Zidera is a sanctions law that was enacted in 2001 in response to alleged human rights abuses by the Zimbabwe government under former President Robert Mugabe.

The law, which was amended last year just after the July 30 elections, demands that Harare fulfil some tough conditions, including political and electoral reforms, accountability for past atrocities and compensation for white farmers who lost their land under Mugabe’s land reform programme, among others

After meeting Mnangagwa in Mozambique at the US-Africa Summit, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy (pictured) on Wednesday said it was important for members of the army involved in the shooting and killing of six protesters in the post-election August 1 demonstrations to be brought to book.

Taking to social blogging site Twitter after the meeting, Nagy said it was important to ensure the implicated soldiers face justice.

“I met President Mnangagwa today (Wednesday) I stressed the urgent need to hold security forces for acts of violence against Zimbabweans including August 2018 and January/February 2019 and the importance of real economic and political reforms,” he said.

Mnangagwa appointed a commission of inquiry into the shootings and violence that characterised the post-election period last year.

The commission, led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, found the military and police responsible for shooting and killing the demonstrators and recommended that they be brought to justice. However, no action has been taken publicly to censure the army while the commander of the unit responsible and former head of the Presidential Guard, Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe has since been appointed as envoy to Tanzania.

Former US diplomat, Todd Moss warned American companies or individuals against meeting Mnangagwa during the summit, saying it was illegal.

“It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing, it is law; US citizens are barred from any meetings or transactions that may benefit designated individuals, President Mnangagwa is a designated individual,” Moss said in comments posted on social media.

The civilian killings have become a major problem for the Mnangagwa regime with the US deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Matthew Harrington last month telling the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington that any goodwill from the international community for the Zimbabwean leader “dissipated” after the civilians shootings.

At the summit, Mnangagwa, pushed to get support from his peers on the continent, saying there was need for the African leaders to move as a bloc.

“The vision is that we don’t need to leave any single country on the continent behind, we need to move together. Our economies are at different levels of development, modernisation or industrialisation, but it is necessary that if we are together we can help each other develop and modernise our economies,” he said.

“Yes, we are 1,2 billion, which is a huge market and as a bloc I think we can make a statement in relation to our partners and our partners will recognise that we are strong and we are a unity to be recognised and dealt with as a unique African continent.”

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said the country remained soiled by its shameful record of State-sponsored human rights violations against civilians by State security agents.

In its latest anti-impunity report, the organisation noted that the violations stretched as far back as the independence era.

“The quest for justice for human rights violations committed by State security agents in Zimbabwe from as far back as the independence era continues to dominate justice issues in Zimbabwe,” the group said.

It cited violations against civilians which include the infamous August 1 killings which remained a sticky subject with calls getting louder for compensation of the victims.

“Investigations against the reports of wanton human rights abuses have been carried out, in some (cases) through the use of official commissions of inquiry and police investigations, but in most instances, these have come to naught. Cases remain unresolved, reports are never released and perpetrators are not held accountable,” charged the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.

The organisation recommended that committing to deal with these human rights violations would be a brave act of standing for what is right and ensuring that Zimbabwe breaks with its past and, in the process, provide justice for the thousands of Zimbabweans whose rights have been violated.

— NewsDay


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