The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe’s state security minister and its ambassador to Tanzania, the U.S. Treasury Department said, accusing them of human rights abuses, including directing an attack on peaceful protesters.
Owen Ncube, Zimbabwe’s state security minister, was blacklisted over accusations that he ordered security services to abduct and mistreat members of the opposition, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
The Treasury Department said it imposed sanctions on Anselem Sanyatwe, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania, accusing him of directing security forces to attack protesters during demonstrations after the 2018 elections when he was commander of the National Army’s Presidential Guard Brigade.
The sanctions freeze any U.S.-held assets of the two officials and generally prohibit Americans from doing business with them.
Ncube and Sanyatwe were previously barred in 2019 by the State Department from entering the United States.
Foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo condemned the latest US move.
“This decision can only further erode trust and confidence in the relationship between Zimbabwe and the United States at a time when, more than ever, confidence-building measures are required so as to sustain the ongoing process of re-engagement between our two countries,” Moyo said.
“In taking this action, the U.S. government appears, unilaterally, to have charged, tried, convicted and sentenced two very senior Zimbabwean nationals – surely the very antithesis of justice as we understand it.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement on Wednesday urged Zimbabwe’s government “to immediately end state-sponsored violence including against peaceful protesters, civil society, labour leaders and members of the opposition in Zimbabwe, and to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuse.”
Six protesters and bystanders died and dozens were injured in 2018 in violence following delays in announcing results that made Emmerson Mnangagwa the first elected head of state since Robert Mugabe’s removal from power.
“Political and military leaders in Zimbabwe have repeatedly used violence to silence political dissent and peaceful protests,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich said.