Last Tuesday, while you were thinking about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Robert Mugabe, who has been dictator of Zimbabwe for the last 37 years, resigned. Then while you were storming the doors of a local brick and mortar on Black Friday to cart off a new 4k flat screen TV, former Zimbabwean First Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as the new President, er, dictator of Zimbabwe.

So, you ask, whither the U.S. sanctions on numerous persons and companies in Zimbabwe? Here’s a hint: Mnangagwa’s nickname is “The Crocodile” and he’s been Mugabe’s right hand man for years until the opportunity to replace Mugabe presented itself and Mnangagwa shoved him aside. Here’s another hint: Mnangagwa is, like Mugabe, on the SDN list, mostly for himself being knee-deep in everything that got Mugabe on the list and kept him there, including the notorious military massacre of the Ndebeles in Matabeleland.

The denial of bail for jailed political opponents of Mnangagwa, Ignatius Chombo and Kudzanai Chipanga, does not give much reason to hope that democratic reforms — a prerequisite to any sanctions reform for Zimbabwe — will occur in the near future.

Even though many of the member of Zimbabwe’s ruling class and associated companies and agencies are under sanctions, and will likely remain so for the near future, Zimbabwe is a major recipient of U.S. foreign aid, recently receiving $220 million from the United States. As you probably know, that could change if Mnangagwa is determined to have taken power through a coup. Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act, as continued through various subsequent appropriations bills, prohibits foreign aid to countries where a duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree. Whether or not Mugabe was “duly elected” remains, I suppose, open to doubt, but even so State Department spokesman Heather Nauert declined to answer questions as to whether Mnangagwa’s takeover was even a coup. “I’m not going to take that bait,” was what she said to worm out of answering that question.

Copyright © 2017 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved. 

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