Zimbabwe Reacts After US Adds President’s Son to Sanctions List

People sell produce in Zimbabwe in this undated photo. Zimbabwe’s economy has mainly turned informal over the years, and authorities attribute that to sanctions imposed by some Western nations following reports of election rigging and human rights abuses. (Columbus Mavhunga/VOA)

BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE — Zimbabwe’s government has reacted following the addition of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son on a U.S. sanctions list for corruption and human rights abuses.

Officials in the southern African nation say the sanctions are hurting the country’s economy. The U.S. disagrees, saying corruption and wrong priorities are the problem.

In a statement, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it added four Zimbabwean nationals and two Zimbabwean companies to the sanctions list. One of the individuals is Emmerson Mnangagwa Jr., the son of the Zimbabwean president.

Another 17 individuals were removed from the list.

The additions include two companies, Fossil Agro and Fossil Contracting, which the U.S. says were involved in opaque, multimillion dollar deals with Zimbabwe’s government.

George Charamba, spokesman for Zimbabwe’s presidency, said he was not surprised by the latest U.S. designations.

“The intention was never to attack individuals, who do not matter anyway in terms of interstate relations,” he said. “The intention has always been to cripple the Zimbabwean economy and it’s not fortuitous that they have picked on suppliers of key inputs to a critical sector of our economy, namely agriculture. They did it before and I can assure you they will do it in future.”

Charamba said the U.S. is pushing for a “compliant” Zimbabwe, while Zimbabwe insists on “an independent national policy which is not influenced by foreigners.”

At the same time, he said, Zimbabwe has a problem with large-scale corruption.

“When you are under sanctions, you must be more careful and prudent when using your resources. The case in point is the 35 million US dollars which is being given to members of parliament and ministers, the package which they have been given. But we do not have basics in the hospitals. Thirty-five million dollars for Zimbabwe can be a game changer,” Mugano said.

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