The United States has imposed sanctions against Emmerson Mnangagwa Jr., the son of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, ahead of the African leaders summit to be hosted in Washington, DC.
On Monday, a press release from the US Treasury Department laid the sanctions on Emmerson Jr., along with three other individuals and two companies. Mnangagwa Jr. was accused by the US Treasury Department of having connections to the blacklisted businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei.
According to the press release, "The Zimbabwe sanctions program targets those who violate human rights, undercut democratic institutions, or encourage corruption." The press statement indicates that neither the Zimbabwean people nor the nation of Zimbabwe, nor the financial industry in Zimbabwe, are targets of US sanctions.
The sanctions are set to go into effect a day before US President Joe Biden is supposed to hold a meeting of African leaders in Washington, DC, to talk about concerns like climate change and food insecurity. Participants of the summit are expected to include over 50 leaders from different African countries.
According to the US Treasury Department, sanctioned individuals are associated with businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei and his Sakunda Holdings company. The press statement claimed that Mnangagwa Jr. had been in control of Tagwirei-related businesses held by his father.
Tagwirei is accused of leveraging his fortune to build connections with powerful government figures, gain access to state contracts, and trade hard currency for opulent commodities like pricey cars. Tagwirei has been under US sanctions since 2020.The US assets of those placed under sanctions are frozen, and Americans are prohibited from doing business with those who have been identified as corrupt.
In 2003, Mnangagwa Junior’s father, the president of Zimbabwe, had his own US assets frozen after being sanctioned by the administration of then-President George W. Bush for undermining democratic processes and institutions in Zimbabwe.
Sanctions were also imposed on Tagwirei's wife, Sandra Mpunga, Sakunda's chief marketing and PR officer, Nqobile Magwizi, and Tagwirei's business partner, Obey Chimuka, in addition to Mnangagwa Jr.
Chimuka owns two companies: Fossil Contracting, which specializes in civil engineering, and Fossil Agro, which manufactures agricultural chemicals.
The Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a statement on Monday that "we urge the Zimbabwean government to take meaningful steps towards creating a peaceful, prosperous, and politically vibrant Zimbabwe, and to address the root causes of many of Zimbabwe's ills: corrupt elites and their abuse of the country's institutions for their personal benefit."
Sanctions Hurting Ordinary Zimbabweans
Sanctions that America claims are targeting specific individuals have had a severe negative impact on Zimbabwe’s economy. Most ordinary Zimbabweans are the ones who are suffering. Those who are targeted by the sanctions are rich enough to thrive despite being under sanctions.
Sanctions and the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy have led many Zimbabweans to cross into neighboring countries looking for a better future. Many Southern African countries are now shouldering the burden of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown. Countries such as South Africa have repeatedly asked for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Zanu-PF supporters have staged a number of demonstrations outside the American embassy in Harare, calling for the United States to lift travel and trade sanctions on Zimbabwe. However, because the campaigns have been unsuccessful, sanctions have remained.