Import of US illegal sanctions

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By Jonathan N. Moyo

TWENTY-ONE years ago, on March 6 2003, US President George W. Bush claimed to have ‘determined’ under Executive Order 13288 that some alleged actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons undermined, ‘Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions’, and that their alleged actions and policies contributed “. . . to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Zimbabwe . . . and to political and economic instability in the Southern African region . . . ”; and constituted “. . . an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States . . .”; and that, therefore, he had declared, “. . . a national emergency to deal with that threat”.

This was flabbergasting, and far reaching.

The US government declared that there was ‘an unusual and extraordinary’ situation in Zimbabwe which threatened ‘the foreign policy of the US’! 

To deal with that situation, the US declared ‘a national emergency’, which empowered various organs of the US government to take unusual, extraordinary and, thus, hostile measures regarding Zimbabwe.

It is notable that the ‘national emergency’ declared by George Bush in March 2003 to ‘deal with’ what he claimed was “. . . an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States” in Zimbabwe was, in the words of his declaration, not a threat to Zimbabwe or Zimbabweans; but “. . . an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States”.

Former US President George W. Bush

The US government dealt with that alleged ‘threat’ through Executive Order 13288 of 6 March 2003, Executive Order 13391 of 22 November 2005 and Executive Order 13466 of 25 July 2008, all of them by George W. Bush, which imposed a panoply of visa restrictions and economic sanctions on the Government and ZANU PF officials, their families as well as anyone else who was deemed to be working or associated with them in any way, shape or form — and a range of key commercial, State and non-State entities across the economy.

Significantly, the current US President, Joseph Biden, issued Executive Order 14118 in which he found that,     “…the declaration of a national emergency in Executive Order 13288 of March 6 2003, with respect to the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons . . . as relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13391 of November 22 2005, and as expanded by Executive Order 13469 of July 25, 2008, should no longer be in effect . . .  the declaration of a national emergency in Executive Order 13288 is no longer needed . . . Accordingly, I hereby terminate the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288, and revoke that order, Executive Order 13391, and Executive Order 13469.”

So, if after 21 years, the US declaration of a national emergency on Zimbabwe in Executive Order 13288 of March 6 2003 ‘should no longer be in effect’, and ‘is no longer needed’ and, therefore, Executive Orders 13288, 13391, and 13469 are revoked, as they have been, what does this development mean; what are its implications? 

The implications of this development are highlighted below:

Implications of Biden’s Executive Order 14118

Among other considerations, Biden’s historic Executive Order 14118 has the following implications, some if not all of them, with far- reaching consequences:

Biden’s revocation of Bush’s Executive Orders 13288 of 6 March 2003, 13391 of November 23 2005 and 13469 of 25 July 2008 on grounds that the ‘national emergency’ claimed in these orders no longer exist or is no longer needed, is tantamount to a spectacular expression of catastrophic failure; given the untold suffering of Zimbabweans and the systematic and structural damage to Zimbabwe’s economy caused by the implementation of the orders by the US, as it sought regime change in the country in vain, over 21 years of the orders; and 23 years of the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) enacted on December 21 2001; upon which the failed orders were based, as the enabling Act.

While the US failed to achieve its regime-change objective over 23 years since ZDERA and 21 years since the declaration of the national emergency, it unfortunately and destructively succeeded not only to entrench political polarisation and divisions among Zimbabweans; but also to sabotage, undermine and derail national economic development in Zimbabwe, with the consequence of crippling the country’s economy.

Given that Biden’s March 4 2024 Executive Order clearly states that it is terminating orders — not relating to the economic sanctions that were said to be targeted at individuals, but orders that were about an alleged ‘situation of a national emergency’ in Zimbabwe that allegedly threatened US security interests for 21 years, it stands to reason that this then exposes the mendacity that the US sanctions only targeted individuals, and not Zimbabwe itself or the country’s general population.

It is clear from Biden’s March 4 2024 Executive Order that the sanctions imposed under the revoked orders were not about individuals, but were about the ‘situation in Zimbabwe’, which situation supposedly created a national emergency that required an extended emergency response from or by the US for some 21 years.

The revocation of the orders in question exposes the blatant lie told by US diplomats and often repeated and thoughtlessly peddled by their local running dogs, that ZDERA not only has nothing to do with economic sanctions, but also that ZDERA has never been implemented since it was enacted in 2001 when, in fact, ZDERA is the enabling or mother Act under which the revoked Executive Orders were made.

In a March 4 2024 statement by the US National Security Council spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, who, while noting the Executive Orders revoked by Biden, said that the US would go forward by employing a new set of tools in Zimbabwe, including the flagship Global Magnitsky sanctions programme, to punish “. . . the egregious behaviour of some of the most powerful people and companies in Zimbabwe”.

US National Security Council spokesperson, Adrienne Watson

Tellingly, the US National Security Council statement concluded by declaring that: “The Administration reaffirms its commitment to work with the people of Zimbabwe; will continue to robustly support civil society, human rights defenders, and independent media to promote values consistent with the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001”.

There’s more to the fact that ZDERA remains intact after the revocation of the mentioned Executive Orders, than meets the eye.

Only fools will be fooled by this! 

If the alleged ‘national emergency’ — which lasted for 21 years — “. . . should no longer be in effect” and “. . . is no longer needed”, as determined by Biden on  March 4 2024, why is ZDERA — the mother law of the revoked national emergency national crisis — still needed?

Whereas Biden’s Executive Order 14118 stated that it was a “. . . termination of Emergency With Respect to the Situation in Zimbabwe . . .”; it is telling that the US Treasury Department framed and cast it as “. . . termination of the Zimbabwe sanctions programme”.  

Even more telling is that the Department’s press statement announced that the terminated ‘national emergency’, which it presented as the ‘Zimbabwe Sanctions Programme’, would be under a new rubric — ‘Sanctions Transition Under the Global Magnitsky Programme’.

Helpfully, and this is important to note and to welcome, the Department confirmed that: “All persons blocked solely pursuant to E.O. 13288, E.O. 13391, or E.O. 13469 (the authorities of the Zimbabwe Sanctions Programme) will be removed today from OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List; All property and interests in property blocked solely pursuant to the Zimbabwe Sanctions Programme  will be unblocked;  and OFAC will remove the Zimbabwe Sanctions regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations.”

Clearly, what this means is that the sanctions are not, and have never been, about individuals.

It’s notable that, because they were about regime change in Zimbabwe, the revoked Executive Orders, and indeed all of the coercive US economic measures taken against the country, thus far, were enforced after a general election of one sort or another. In other words, during the period covered by the orders, every general election in Zimbabwe was followed by US sanctions; starting with ZDERA itself.

To be continued …

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