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Sanctions are the only weapon the United States has to force Mnangagwa to implement democratic reforms

Sanctions are the only weapon that the United States has to force the new administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to implement democratic reforms and respect human rights and freedoms, a director of the International Republican Institute, Elizabeth Lewis, told the United States congress.

Contributing to a debate on the post-Mugabe Zimbabwe, Lewis said Mnangagwa was talking about reforms but laws that restrict people’s freedoms are still in place.

“Sanctions and US influence in international financial institutions are our strongest points of leverage in discussions over democratic reforms and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms,” she said.

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on February 2 that it will only lend to Zimbabwe if it clears its debts with other multilateral institutions.

“Given the leadership role that the US holds in the World Bank, it is vital that we hold the line until true progress and good will is demonstrated by the Mnangagwa administration and ZANU-PF officials.”

Lewis also lamented the divisions within the opposition, especially after the death of Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

“The importance of a viable opposition capable of competing in the electoral process cannot be understated. A critical benchmark in achieving this is the prevention of a supermajority in the Zimbabwean National Assembly – which ZANU-PF currently has – to prevent further amendments to the 2013 Constitution that would restrict political space and fundamental freedoms or grant additional powers to the presidency,” she said.

“In the post-election period, it is critical that the opposition demonstrate its cohesiveness and capacity to serve as a check on government power and advocate for the interests and priorities of its constituents.”

The United States renewed its sanctions on Zimbabwe for another year from today.

Below is her full statement:

Testimony by Elizabeth Lewis Regional Deputy Director, Africa Division International Republican Institute

U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations

Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, and Members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, it is an honor to testify before you today on the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe and the prospects for genuine democratic reform following the end of Robert Mugabe's 37-year rule.

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