WHILE the Zimbabwean government has been trying to clear its image on the international forum, its human rights record has been catching up with it amid indications that there were objections to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s participation at the just-ended US-Africa Business Summit hosted by Botswana.
Mnangagwa this week attended the US-Africa Summit, which is a follow-up to the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit held in December last year.
Last year, Zimbabwe was for the first time invited to the US-Africa high-level meeting, attended by 49 heads of state, after Washington relaxed conditions for Zimbabwe.
However, Harare was represented at a lower level by Foreign minister Frederick Shava because of travel restrictions slapped on Mnangagwa.
This week, presidential spokesperson George Charamba revealed that there were overtures to bar Mnangagwa from attending the summit held in Gaborone.
“With host President Dr Masisi, Botswana extended an invitation to Zimbabwe in spite of objections from some within Corporate Council for Africa and from elements within the American establishment,” he said via his Twitter handle Tinoedzazvimwe1.
“Walking to the venue of the Conference in the company of the President of Niger. The US-Africa Business Summit follows up on decisions of the US-Africa Summit held towards end of last year in Washington.
“On the insistence of the US government, Zimbabwe was represented by Hon Dr Shava, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
“The US government continues to pursue a policy of petty vindictiveness in spite of the fact that Zimbabwe under the second republic has avowed a policy of friendship to all and enmity to none. Africa, led by Sadc countries has adopted a policy of opposing US’ ruinous policies towards Zimbabwe, an effort commemorated yearly on 25th October.”
Although the United States government promised US$55 billion investment into Africa over the next three years at the US-Africa leaders’ summit, Zimbabwe is unlikely to benefit much because of restrictive measures imposed on the country.
The fund will go to “a wide range of sectors to tackle the core challenges of our time,” and is being distributed in close partnership with Congress, said Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, during the leaders’ summit.
On the eve of the summit, the US government imposed sanctions on Mnangagwa’s son, Emmerson Jr, and individuals linked to his adviser and close associate, the business tycoon Kuda Tagwirei.
Also placed on the list was Tagwirei’s wife Sandra Mpunga, Nqobile Magwizi, Obey Chimuka and Fossil Contracting Agro Ltd.
Over the years, the US has not been directly lending money to Zimbabwe, with the country mainly benefitting through humanitarian proceeds.
Since 1980, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has extended an estimated US$3.2 billion to Zimbabwe in aid, making it one of the biggest providers of humanitarian aid in the country.
The US government’s Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) of March 2001 has seen Zimbabwe failing to access lines of credit until certain criteria are met.
According to the Act, if democratic principles are not met, the secretary of the US Treasury can instruct the executives of international financial institutions to oppose and vote against “any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or, any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any international financial institution.”
The Act urges Zimbabwe to ensure there is the restoration of the rule of law, reforming election and pre-election conditions, commitment to equitable, legal and transparent land reform and the security apparatus being subordinate to the civilians.
Whilst Harare says sanctions have been hampering economic development, the US has been maintaining that bad governance and corruption in Zimbabwe have been responsible for the rot.
The US government committed to providing nearly US$20 billion in health programmes in the Africa region, according to the White House during the summit.
Of the US$22 billion facility, US$11.5 billion will be used to address HIV and Aids, over US$2 billion in support of family planning and reproductive health and a further US$2 billion will be channelled in the fight against malaria.
The facility will also be used to support maternal and child health. More than US$2 billion has also been invested to address the health, humanitarian and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and, according to Sullivan, the US is planning to ask Congress for US$4 billion for healthcare workers in Africa, investing $1.33 billion annually from 2022 to 2024.
Washington has since 2021 invested and harboured plans to provide at least US$1.1 billion to support African-led efforts in conservation, climate adaptation, and energy transitions.
These funds include US International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC) investments into Malawi’s Golomoti JCM Solar Corporation, and a Climate Action Infrastructure Facility.
Zimbabwe is in need of funding to support exploration on new energy sources, as climate change has in the past months plunged the country into power dire straits — wiping out three quarters of its energy supply.
In the fourth quarter of 2022, the Zambezi River Authority, a bi-national organisation, suspended power generation at the country’s Kariba hydro-power station due to low water levels of less than 3%, which are unsustainable for power generation.
New trade and investment
At the summit, US President Joe Biden highlighted US$15 billion in trade and investment partnerships and deals, which is over US$1 billion signed by US Export-Import Bank (Exim), including a US$500 million memo of understanding with the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to support diaspora engagement.
It also includes a US$500 million deal with the Africa Finance Corp (AFC), and a US$300 million memorandum of understanding with Africa50 to match US businesses with medium- to large-scale infrastructure projects.
The deals also include a new “Clean Tech Energy Network” that supports US$350 million in deals.
The US also made commitments to advance women’s economic participation in Africa, with the International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC) announcing US$358 million of new investments for women’s initiatives.
The US State Department is also expected to launch a programme that will create green jobs for women on the continent, with an initial US$1 million investment.