Senator Jim Risch, the ranking Republican on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, strongly objected to Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s invitation to last week’s US-Africa Business Summit, which was held in Gaborone, Botswana.
Last month, Resch wrote to Florizel Lesser, president and CEO of the Council of Companies in Africa (CCA), the US business association that organized the summit, asking it to rescind the invitation to Mnangagwa, saying his invitation was “unwise” as it is sanctioned by the states. United.
The invitation was not cancelled. Last week, Resch expressed his displeasure with a tweet from the Companies Council saying, “We extend our sincere gratitude to His Excellency @edmnangagwa for honoring us with his presence at the #USAfricaBizSummit. commendable.”
In response, Risch chirp His dismay that the CCA, a US-based organization promoting trade and investment with Africa, highlighted Mnangagwa’s presence, sanctioned by the US Treasury Department, at the summit. He added that a number of US officials and companies were participating, “subscribing in part with taxpayer dollars”.
Daily Maverick I reached out to the CCA and the Zimbabwean government for comment on Friday, but neither had responded by Sunday.
However, Tony Carroll, director of Acorus Capital, an assistant professor in the African Studies program at Johns Hopkins University, and a founding member of CCA, defended the invitation to Mnangagwa, saying it was up to Botswana, host of the summit. And the CCA, not the US government, to decide who should attend, because it was a business conference.
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In his previous letter, submitted to Daily Maverick By his office, Resch noted that Mnangagwa had been a “designated citizen” subject to US sanctions since 2003. He was one of only eight leaders of foreign governments subject to such sanctions. Others include Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Resch noted that because both Mnangagwa and his vice president, Constantino Chiwenga, have been sanctioned by the United States, President Joe Biden has not invited either of them to US-Africa Leaders Summit He hosted it in Washington, D.C. in December last year.
Rich Lesser warned of “poor optics and the potential legal ramifications for US business leaders who do business directly with a sanctioned individual.”
He said Mnangagwa’s participation “will help the Zimbabwean government’s false propaganda that Zimbabwe is ‘open for business'”, while Zimbabwe was ranked 140thy of 190 countries on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.
Additionally, he said, “Zimbabwe is one of the most economically repressive countries in the world, ranking 172Abbreviation II Among 176 countries assessed under the Heritage Foundation’s 2023 Index of Economic Freedom.
Resch noted that Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Index rated Zimbabwe as “not free”. And Zimbabwe was among the world’s most corrupt countries, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranked it 157th.y from 180 countries in the world.
These ratings indicate that the investment climate in Zimbabwe was “extremely poor”. It has suffered from persistent economic crises “driven by the deliberate mismanagement of the country’s economy by the Zimbabwean government.”
“This continued state interference in the economy is driven by efforts to facilitate massive corruption and looting by political elites, including on behalf of President Mnangagwa himself.”
Risch also noted that under US sanctions legislation, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, the US Congress has confirmed that the US should not pursue trade and investment with Zimbabwe until the Zimbabwean government undertakes serious and credible economic and democratic reforms.
Risch warned that Mnangagwa would use his participation in the business summit to “discredit the relationship between the governments of the United States and Zimbabwe” and burnish his image in partisan campaigning for next month’s elections.
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US business outreach to Mnangagwa was “fundamentally inappropriate” because Zimbabwean authorities had harassed and expelled numerous US officials, blamed the acting US ambassador for promoting peaceful electoral participation and voter registration, blamed US sanctions for Zimbabwe’s economic woes, and frustrated efforts American democracy. Reese said the assistance programs.
He said allowing Mnangagwa to participate in the summit would mean endorsing a regime that has used violence, legal battle and prolonged detention to intimidate and marginalize opposition leaders and critical voices.
He said he would communicate with the US government on “how to move forward in supporting and engaging with the United States in the future.”
He also warned that dealing formally with a sanctioned head of government “could have significant legal ramifications” for US companies attending the summit. DM