"The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee today approved bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), both members of the committee, to lay the framework for U.S. relations with the government in Zimbabwe. Senators Flake and Coons led a bipartisan Congressional delegation to Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, in April.
The bill updates the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 and sets forth the steps Zimbabwe needs to take to have sanctions on its country lifted, including ensuring the country’s upcoming elections on July 30 are free, fair, and credible."

So begins yesterday's announcement from Senator Chris Coons' offices.

The amendments to ZIDERA now approved by the main Foreign Relations Committee are sometimes breathtaking in their brazenness and surprising in some instances.

Such as, for example, an amendment that commits the United States to Bretton Woods efforts to restructure, reschedule or write-off Zimbabwe's debts.

The conditions for this happening are a mixture of good set of expectations and some double-takes. The free and fair elections are a very small part of the requirements to be recognised, the Statement from the Senate says.

The Senate would like to see the Land Acquisition judgements set out by the SADC Tribunal are implemented. These were the cases taken to the Tribunal by some dispossessed commercial farmers and companies who had also had their land acquired.

The Tribunal was shut down after Robert Mugabe led a fierce charge against it when it voted contrary to his wishes. He forced a meeting of Heads of State to discuss the issue and was so convincing on the infringement of sovereignty that the Heads of State agreed to shut the whole thing down.

So, the Senate would like to see those rulings being complied with in Zimbabwe.

 Another conditions, for instance, is that the government of Zimbabwe must "respect the opposition". A completely subjective approach.

This is basically tightening the screws on President Mnangagwa's government and the Establishment in general.

President Mnangagwa's depth of commitment to reform is what is being tested here. And although it sounds condescending to have such minutiae details of policy effectively dictated, the point is made.

Senator Coons has made no secret of his opinion that President Mnangagwa is largely talking without acting. He has said he has "lately been disappointed" by what he sees as the lack of political will to implement reforms to liberalise the entire economy.

Government has not commented on the matter, except when the announcement of an proposed amendment was made. Back then, government spokesman issued a statement saying Senator Coons was "mistaken" in his push to tighten the requirements for further assistance after the 2018 elections.


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