By Thabani Dube
The Acting Ambassador of Sudan to Zimbabwe, Rida Osman says the Government of Zimbabwe must initiate dialogue with the United States of America to end economic sanctions and travelling restrictions.
The Acting Ambassador, who is also the Deputy Head of Mission in Harare, told this journalist at a recently held press conference in Harare that the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Walter Mzembi was the right-man to start negotiations with the US to end the 17 year old sanctions bedevilling the economy of the southern country.
“Harare should consider initiating dialogue with Washington to end the economic sanctions especially now, following the recent cabinet reshuffle which saw the appointment of former Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mzembi to Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Mzembi has done a very good job to put Zimbabwe on the global map as minister of tourism, and I believe he can handle very well the negotiations with America to ease the embargoes,” said the Deputy Head of Mission.
On 6th October 2017, the US permanently lifted 20 year-old economic sanctions against Sudan citing positive efforts towards humanitarian access and counter-terrorism by the North African country of which the revocation became effective on the 12thof October last week.
“Both Zimbabwe and Sudan have been facing sanctions by America and our experience in dialogue has proved to be effective in the ending of the sanctions against Sudan and I do not think Zimbabwe could be an exception if they follow suit,” he said.
The US imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2000, after they accused President Robert Mugabe of trampling on human rights, rigging elections and repression of press freedom – accusations that the veteran leader denied.
The sanctions led to devastating economic challenges, with the country reportedly now sitting with about 90 percent unemployment rate.
“It takes Zimbabwe to end these sanctions, because of their negative impact on Zim economy and initiating dialogue with US is the first step towards relaxation of the embargoes,” said Acting Ambassador Osman.
Osman believes that though his country was not expecting a quick economic recovery, he was hopeful that it will definitely grow.
“Though we are not expecting overnight improvements in the economy, the lifting of the sanctions will attract direct investments from American companies into the country which also have good and effective equipment in the mining, agriculture and oil production sectors,” he said.
In July, the US President Donald Trump said a decision whether or not to fully lift sanctions, which former President Barrack Obama had suspended shortly before leaving the White House, would be delayed for three month, much to the disappointment of Khartoum.
“The United States decided to revoke economic sanctions with respect to Sudan and the Government of Sudan under the Executive Orders 13067 and 13412, in recognition of the Government of Sudan’s sustained positive actions to maintain a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in Sudan, improve humanitarian access throughout Sudan, and maintain cooperation with the United States on addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism,” reads a statement by the States Department Spokesperson, Heather Nauert in a press statement on Friday, 6 October 2017.
Osman said the negotiations took four years and were led by a joint committee composed of the two countries’ ministries of foreign affairs and intelligence departments.