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The US Clarifies its Stance on Sanctions

US officials have admitted that targeted sanctions against individuals in Zimbabwe could affect investments in that country, but said they were willing “to always speak to businesses or work with those who fear that our sanctions are getting in the way of legitimate business activity”. Sanctions co-ordinator for the US department of state James O’Brien told a briefing on the topic of Zimbabwean sanctions that one of the reasons companies might decide not to get involved in “difficult environments” could be “the risk that either new sanctions will be put in place” or a lack of clarity around current sanctions. “But it’s also the case that our sanctions call out behaviours that businesses want to avoid,” he said, such as corruption and the abuse of public services. US state department officials reiterated that sanctions were not targeted at most Zimbabweans but at individuals who had presided over human rights abuses, anti-democratic actions and corruption. The US and EU first imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe at the height of the country’s controversial land reform programme more than two decades ago that stripped thousands of white commercial farmers of their land. The sanctions have subsequently been reviewed and renewed every year.