THE United States (US) government has included media personalities and academics on its new sanctions list that will affect both individuals and government entities held responsible for political violence which characterised the period leading up to the June 27 presidential run-off election.
The US Embassy’s Public Affairs Office in Harare yesterday said these sanctions were carefully targeted against those individuals who were responsible for the abuses perpetrated by President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
“President George Bush has expressed his desire to strengthen existing sanctions against Zimbabwe in light of recent developments in that country,” said a statement from the embassy. “State-sponsored violence and a sham election orchestrated by Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF supporters on June 27 necessitate this action in order to send a strong message that the United States will not allow individuals closely associated with the Mugabe regime the freedom to operate in our financial markets.”
The embassy declined to reveal the names of the individuals and entities slapped with the sanctions, but said it had since dispatched letters to those affected advising them of the developments.
Sources privy to the list told the Zimbabwe Independent that the new list now includes journalists from the state-controlled media, university professors and political commentators.
“The new list includes journalists, political commentators, university professors and everyone who worked to undermine democracy in the country,” one of the sources said.
The embassy’s Assistant Public Affairs Officer, Mark Weinberg, yesterday declined to release the number of individuals and entities affected.
He said: “We don’t have a specific figure at the moment but we were looking at people inside Mugabe’s regime who are responsible for the recent political events.”
Weinberg could neither confirm nor deny that the list included journalists, academics and political commentators.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) on Tuesday widened sanctions against people and companies allegedly propping up Mugabe’s government.
The EU added 37 more people to a 130 list of individuals under a visa ban and asset freeze.
The list include two journalists, political editor of the Sunday Mail Munyaradzi Huni and former Herald political editor Ceasar Zvayi. Zvayi left Zimbabwe last month for Botswana, where he is now a media lecturer.
Also on the list are central bank governor Gideon Gono, his advisor Munyaradzi Kereke, Cricket Zimbabwe president Peter Chingoka, deputy chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Joyce Kazembe, army generals and others.
The companies listed were Zidco Holdings and Jongwe Printing and Publishing Company (Pvt) Ltd, Cold Comfort Farm Trust Co-operative, and Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
The EU Foreign ministers said the sanctions could be extended to other individuals and organisations.
In the coming weeks the EU said it will “examine the measures which might be taken against others responsible for violence, and other bodies linked” to them.
The sanctions were imposed despite the fact that Mugabe and leaders of the two MDC factions – Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai – on Monday agreed to find a negotiated settlement to the country’s crisis by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
The MoU paved the way for focused negotiations for power sharing being mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki. The talks were initiated by Sadc and are backed by the African Union and the United Nations. The negotiations kicked off in Pretoria yesterday.
By Lucia Makamure