Min­is­ter hope­ful Zim-US re­la­tions will im­prove

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mabasa Sasa at the United Na­tions

THERE re­mains hope for some thaw­ing in Zim­bab­weUnited States re­la­tions in the last few months of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sim­barashe Mum­bengegwi has said.

He was speak­ing to Zim­bab­wean me­dia here af­ter meet­ing US as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state for African af­fairs Linda Thomas-Green­field as part of reg­u­lar bi­lat­eral en­gage­ments aimed at im­prov­ing re­la­tions.

The US im­posed sanc­tions on Zim­babwe through the Zim­babwe Democ­racy and Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery Act as a re­sponse to Harare’s de­ci­sion to re­dis­tribute land held by 6 000 white farm­ers to 300 000 pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged black fam­i­lies.

Zidera bars all in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions in which the US has rep­re­sen­ta­tion or share­hold­ing from co­op­er­at­ing with Zim­babwe, con­trary to claims that the sanc­tions are “tar­geted” at a few po­lit­i­cal elites.

Zim­babwe has been en­gag­ing the US and the Euro­pean Union, which also uni­lat­er­ally im­posed sanc­tions over the same rea­son, with a view to nor­mal­is­ing re­la­tions.

Min­is­ter Mum­bengegwi said, “We have been meet­ing for quite some time over the years and on the side lines of the Gen­eral Assem­bly we’ve al­ways met, on the side lines of the African Union, we’ve al­ways met.

“The main pur­pose re­ally has al­ways been to en­gage each other with a view to find­ing a way for­ward which would re­sult in the lift­ing of the il­le­gal sanc­tions which are cur­rently im­posed upon Zim­babwe and it’s an on­go­ing di­a­logue.

“The sit­u­a­tion in Zim­babwe is re­ally no dif­fer­ent from the sit­u­a­tion in other coun­tries, it is quite nor­mal.

“Of course within (the US) sys­tem there are many com­pli­ca­tions and sen­si­tiv­i­ties where they have to bring all the stake­hold­ers on board be­fore any move­ment can be made.

“We were hop­ing that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion would make move­ment be­fore the end of of­fice and the rea­son why we were hope­ful is the fact that Pres­i­dent Obama has en­gaged vir­tu­ally all the other coun­tries with which the United States had dif­fer­ences…

“It would ap­pear as if Zim­babwe is about the only coun­try which does not seem to re­ceive that kind of at­ten­tion that these other coun­tries have re­ceived.”

He said the ma­jor stum­bling block was that al­le­ga­tions raised about hu­man rights abuses, dis­re­spect of the rule of law and breaches of democ­racy were not backed up by any specifics dur­ing bi­lat­eral en­gage­ments.

“They al­ways talk of hu­man rights, democ­racy and rule of law; but these are very gen­eral and generic terms which do not prompt any­one to take spe­cific ac­tion. It would make it much eas­ier if there were spe­cific, con­crete ex­am­ples.

“We al­ways re­spect and obey the judg­ments of our courts. Our courts are open to ev­ery­one and ev­ery judg­ment is re­spected even if (we may not agree with it).

“As for hu­man rights, we have al­ways said whose hu­man rights have been vi­o­lated? They haven’t been able to give any specifics.

“How­ever, we have agreed to con­tinue to en­gage and hope that in the re­main­ing few months, maybe some move­ment will be made as has been done in other sit­u­a­tions where the United States has had dif­fer­ences with other coun­tries. Why not with Zim­babwe?”

Min­is­ter Mum­bengegwi said though there was not much time left in the Obama pres­i­dency, there was still scope for progress as “noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble”.

“It can be done. Of course I’m not say­ing it will be done, but we will con­tinue the di­a­logue and hope that some­thing might ma­te­ri­alise even in the clos­ing hours of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

In his ad­dress to the Gen­eral Assem­bly on Wed­nes­day, Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe called for an end to the il­le­gal sanc­tions, which were im­posed out­side of the UN sys­tem. AN earth­quake that reg­is­tered 5,6 on the Richter scale was recorded in Mozam­bique and felt in Chipinge on Thurs­day evening.

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ser­vices Depart­ment seis­mol­o­gist Mr Kwang­wari Marim­ira, said the earth­quake oc­curred at 2206hrs lo­cal time.

“The earth­quake was felt in Chipinge and sur­round­ing ar­eas. A num­ber of peo­ple in Chipinge felt the earth­quake. They felt the move­ments, heard the rum­bling and the shak­ing and most were fright­ened.

“Mozam­bique and sur­round­ing ar­eas in Man­i­ca­land are within the line of weak­ness of the Great East African Rift Sys­tem, which ex­tends all the way from the Red Sea in the north to Man­i­ca­land and into Mozam­bique in the south. We recorded a num­ber of fore­shocks on Septem­ber 21 thus in­di­cat­ing how sus­cep­ti­ble the area is to earth­quakes,” he said.

He said earth­quakes were the most de­struc­tive nat­u­ral haz­ards that oc­cured in most coun­tries and killed thou­sands ev­ery year.

In 2006 dur­ing an­other Mozam­bique earth­quake of 7.2 which was felt through­out Zim­babwe, some build­ings were de­stroyed in Chipinge, thus there is a need to con­struct strong build­ings ad­her­ing to set reg­u­la­tions.

“In Zim­babwe in 2016 alone we’ve recorded a num­ber of earth­quakes and some were felt in Kariba, Karoi, and Bu­l­awayo and in Chipinge. On Au­gust 23 2016 an earth­quake mea­sur­ing 4.1 on the Richter scale was ex­pe­ri­enced north of Karoi Town at 1502hrs.

“The main causes of earth­quakes in Zim­babwe are largely plate tec­ton­ics closely re­lated to the East African Rift Sys­tem, min­ing and reser­voir in­duced. We’ve recorded a num­ber of min­ing in­duced earth­quakes in Mata­bele­land South es­pe­cially in Gwanda and also in the Mid­lands,” he said.

Large de­struc­tive earth­quakes have oc­curred world­wide in highly ur­banised ar­eas in 2016 and have caused con­sid­er­able dam­age and loss of lives in Italy, Ja­pan, Tai­wan, Ecuador and In­dia.

Min­is­ter Sim­barashe Mum­bengegwi

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