Biden extended sanctions on Zimbabwe and revealed it’s all about safeguarding US interests

Leonard Sengere Avatar
City Of Harare, bills in USD

I stewed over this for many days, to be honest. I understood what it said but I didn’t understand it at the same time. That doesn’t make any sense but it is what it is. The United States extended its sanctions on Zimbabwe and it’s crazy to me.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, I expected them to extend those sanctions, as I’m sure you did too. I was not shocked. However, expecting something to happen and it actually happening are two different things.

These sanctions were first promulgated (word of the day, I had to use it) in 2003 by George W. Bush. They have been extended multiple times over the years, including by Obama’s administration. Joe Biden has carried on this tradition.

Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Zimbabwe

On March 6, 2003, by Executive Order 13288, the President declared a national emergency and blocked the property of certain persons, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706), to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions.

These actions and policies had contributed to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Zimbabwe, to politically motivated violence and intimidation in that country, and to political and economic instability in the southern African region.

On November 22, 2005, the President issued Executive Order 13391 to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288 by ordering the blocking of property of additional persons undermining democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe.

On July 25, 2008, the President issued Executive Order 13469, which expanded the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288 and authorized the blocking of property of additional persons undermining democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe.

The actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.

For this reason, the national emergency declared on March 6, 2003, and the measures adopted on that date, on November 22, 2005, and on July 25, 2008, to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond March 6, 2023.

Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.

Does this even affect Zimbabwe?

Much has been debated about the actual effect of these sanctions on Zimbabwe. Those in the Zanu camp will tell you that Zimbabwe would have overtaken Singapore if it weren’t for these sanctions.

Those in the opposition camp say it’s more likely that Zimbabwe benefitted from the sanctions in the grand scheme of things. That’s how little impact they think sanctions have had on our economy.

They also clarify that, even if it was the case that the sanctions had a negative effect, Ian Smith’s regime was also under sanctions and yet was much more successful than this current Zimbabwe. You cannot argue against this.

Of course, like with everything else in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Businessmen like Strive Masiyiwa have given accounts of how funding lines were closed because of these sanctions. Even though they are said to be ‘targeted.’

American companies know that working with companies in sanctioned regions carries heavy penalties and often err on the side of caution. They would rather miss out on funding a Zim company than risk finding out later that said company has links to a Zanu member who is under sanctions.

Sanctions not about Zimbabwe

Biden had to give a reason for why he was extending these sanctions. He was just as candid as his predecessors. He said, ‘for this reason…’ the sanctions must be extended beyond March 6 2023. The reason?

The actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.

It’s about the US’s foreign policy my friend. The US would not care one bit about some persons undermining the rule of law in Zimbabwe if that didn’t pose an ‘unusual and extraordinary threat’ to their interests. So much for these world prefects of ours.

The foreign policy simply refers to how the US wants to officially interact with the Zimbabwe government. This interaction is not just out of wanting to be friends, no, it’s about furthering their own country’s interests. We’ve seen movies, we know how this works.

So, certain individuals are causing an unusual threat to the US’s interests? What exactly is unusual about this threat? I don’t know. To then call it ‘extraordinary’ sounds a bit dramatic, doesn’t it?

Extraordinary, you say?

But if we consider that Zimbabwe is sitting on vast amounts of an increasingly strategic mineral like lithium, then of course, the fact that the US, in trying to still look all holier-than-thou can’t be seen sitting at the same table as us. It’s a problem and now the East (read China) has control over said resources.

I guess until we reimburse white farmers for the land invasions of the early noughts, these sanctions won’t be going anywhere. Those land invasions have cost us everything. Not least of which is the fact that those that took over those farms have used them as weekend getaways and not as farms.

That’s enough about that. It’s one of those topics where you’re like, ‘you guys keep saying these sanctions have no real impact on the economy’ and yet the same sanctions are being used by the sanctioned individuals to campaign and hold on to power. I feel like, if they are that insignificant, just remove them and remove that excuse. But that’s a dream. It’s never going to happen.

What do you think about all this? It’s depressing stuff but it is what it is, it has to be addressed.

Also read:

Crypto undermining power of the West to cripple economies through sanctions – Ukraine-Russia war shows

Tougher times ahead for Huawei as smartphone chip supply affected by US sanctions

ICT Minister Blames Sanctions For Zim’s Outdated ICT Infrastructure


What’s your take?

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  1. Mwenewazvo Matemai

    Maybe it’s advisable to engage some legal minds to elaborate on what “foreign policy entails”. Promoting the ends of democratic governance and human rights is a US foreign policy objective. That’s why violations of human rights everywhere are stated to be injurious to the US and it’s policy objectives by it’s secretaries and President.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      We are talking about the end goal of foreign policy. In the end, these relations are about furthering a country’s own interests. ‘Democracy and human rights’ may be objectives but that’s not the end of the story. It’s about fostering relations with a view to strategic partnerships forming. That’s why there really isn’t a foreign policy to talk about when it comes to countries that have no strategic importance.

  2. 3rd Avenue

    Chikuru kufema Zimbabwe

    1. Leonard Sengere

      🤣 Funny but true. Usatsvage zvakawanda.

  3. D.K.

    It is not Biden, but the American president or the American system. Each and every American president after Bush (and there have been many), only looks at the document on Zimbabwe when the time is due, and compares what is supposed to be done and what has been done in the year after extension, and, if nothing has been done on the checklist, he or she extends by another year. The president does not put his feelings into it. They may as well automate the document by feeding it into a computer with a simple program checking what needs to be done against the input of what was done in the year, and it will just do the if, then, else and come out with the same result as the president under those conditions. With us here, the people Bush created the conditions for seem to be ignoring or not being worried about looking at the points and looking at America in the face, and giving convincing responses, rather than the ganging up with other African countries and having entertainment under an anti sanctions day with no timeline as to when the final one should be held.

    1. Uncle Tosh

      Bros kindly search who exactly drafted these so called targeted sanctions that have hindered our economy. You will be shocked to find Joe Biden’s name all over ZIDERA act. I don’t support any political party in Zimbabwe but these sanctions are not targeted because they affect me on daily basis. I usually buy my stuff online using alibaba, then came a moment when i won an amazon gift card. After redeeming my card I bought some stuff but failed to deliver to Zim, I then ended up using my cousin’s address who’s in SA for me to receive them on his behalf. Let’s not be fooled by these politicians

      1. Terence

        I smell lies here

      2. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

        Things are shipped to Zim from Amazon all the time. Maybe your address is deep in Dotito where even Swift cannot reach.

      3. Leonard Sengere

        While I agree that the sanctions have had some impact on our everyday lives I have to agree with others too that you’re exaggerating on the Amazon issue. I know first hand that packages are getting here.

    2. Leonard Sengere

      D.K. you’re not a fan of the anti-sanction rallies 🤣. They are a waste of time. And you’re right, the conditions that have to be met are still to be met. And if we’re being honest, we’re never going to meet them. Unless our minerals become essential at some point, they won’t lift a finger to help us.

      1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

        I can imagine the look on Putins face when the esteemed Ambassador suggested, “why not have Anti-Sanctions Day?” 😂

  4. Skinny pig

    I can’t even sign up to some important sites because of those sanctions

    1. Terence

      Hausi wakunyepa here iwe

      1. Gupta

        It’s not a lie. Try signing up on these platforms,,, and

        I even reminded them to check my name on the OFAC sanctions list. They were having none of it.

    2. Leonard Sengere

      Examples would be great. I don’t doubt that there are some sites you can’t sign up to but is it because of the sanctions or just the geo restrictions that are common on the web.

      1. Anonymous

        If I’m not mistaken, whilst the general theme is the sanctions are targeted. The same sanctions placed Zimbabwe on the Combating Terrorism Financing Act of 2005 by virtue of targeted organisations. See ==> The effect is many US financial companies like Paypal, Skrill etc would rather not provide service to Zimbabwe just to make sure they don’t mistakenly enable a targeted individual which would bring with it heavy penalties on the company.

  5. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    Things are shipped to Zim from Amazon all the time. Maybe your address is deep in Dotito where even Swift cannot reach.

  6. 👽

    Of course US sanctions on zim are for the benefit of the US.. the name says it all
    And those who campaign for their removal in Zimbabwe, its for their benefit also not the regular joe like you and me. Was just reading an article on pindula wher the RBZ gvnr said their are no sanctions on zims trade in his defense to the yet to be screened documentary ende ka docu ikako kakabuda kakanyangara to my expectations tichazonyatsoiswa pama sanctions chaiwo kwete enhando aya

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Kachanakidza kadocumentary ikaka. Even if it doesn’t come out, it’s already shaken some things. And yeah, when elephants fight it’s the grass that suffers. We are pawns in this game of thrones.

  7. Say a lie enough times…

    It’s ironic but all the campaigning that sanctions ‘on Zimbabwe’ must go makes it look to some investors that the sanctions are indeed not targeted. That means a lot of what people are directly attributing to sanctions is just entities not willing to go through the due diligence required to know exactly what is sanctioned and how to be compliant.

    Other reasons might be because:
    -Investors fear they might mess up and get on the wrong side of the law
    -The potential gain is not worth the extra effort

    We have seen there are companies that have figured it out and found profitable niches. If you want that kind of investment/partnership, go the extra mile to educate and help them with compliance in a way that makes it explicit that their risk (at least on this one front) is minimal.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      That fear of getting on the wrong side of the law is real. So like you said, it just places a bigger hurdle on the Zim company seeking investment. It’s a difficult ask for an investor especially considering that Zim is not quite the gold standard investment destination to begin with.

  8. 20

    Even if there’s sanctions there’s still trade with Europe other african countries etc. We should be manufacturing on our end for own requirements.. Right now most of the machinery is coming from China there are no sanctions there. We have stamp out this corruption as well it’s literally killing us now and build our export capacity.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      That’s where the ‘sanctions are an excuse’ reality kicks in. There is a lot we are doing wrong all by ourselves, let’s get those right and then complain about the sanctions.

  9. The Empress

    We Zimbabweans should stop behaving like children. It’s embarrassing.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven

  10. Anonymous

    We Zimbabweans should stop behaving like children. It’s embarrassing!

  11. The Empress

    To be poor is not a crime. But to be poor and have something of value? That’s a very serious crime.
    So sanctions where put in place to protect USA interests? Since we talking about obvious things, did you know that water is wet and fire is hot?

    1. Leonard Sengere

      You’d be surprised. The conversations I’ve had on this topic. There’s a good number out there that believes it is all out of the goodness of the US’s hearts that they are fighting human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. It’s all about the little guy in these people’s eyes. The conversation had to be had, we had to discuss how water is wet so we’re all on the same page.

  12. S Moyo

    The reason for our suffering is ZANU PF. The earlier one realises that the better. Before sanctions, we were already failing to pay our debts to IMF, World Bank, ADB, Paris Club etc. In 2000, Mugabe lost a referendum, a sure sign that he was losing support fast, he let lose his dogs onto the farms to bolster his support. This was never about giving people land. Now those who are on the farms don’t have security of tenure, no title Deeds, cannot use the land as collateral to borrow capital, can be kicked out anytime. Even those with Deeds are not secure too, Sipho Malunga and colleagues are being hounded out of a farm they bought and they are blacks. Gold is being smuggled everyday out of Zimbabwe by ZANU PF. Thousands of people working on farms, even though they were earning little money are now jobless, homeless, or working with no pay for ZANU PF chefs.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      I don’t think any of what you said can be disputed. We don’t need sanctions to tank our economy, we are doing that well enough on our own. It’s just that we have to also be aware that sanctions are only worsening the situation, the impact may be little, but it’s there. When we consider that it’s being used as an excuse and helping form a campaign strategy then the impact seems huge.

  13. Mukanya

    Sanctions are a scapegoat of tyranny…

  14. FG

    You generally can’t tell countries what to do so they’re free to have their sanctions. The theory is that people will get mad and revolt but have people ever done that? Iran have stiffer sanctions than us but the main reason for their revolt now is their morality police got a bit too excited. As for its effects, it’s probably less about the sanctions themselves and more the penalties you face for breaching them that scares people away. It’s annoying how they birch about China moving into Zim and building s*** but where are they?

    Honestly, the sanctions we put on ourselves are probably worse than any other country has put of us. I doubt if these sanctions went away things will change because we’re still Zim unless there’s a change of mindset.

  15. Anonymous

    A lot of gulf states like Saudi Arabia have the worst human rights abuse but they’re not even sanctioned..😁😁😁😁

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