The United States has announced sanctions against Emmerson Mnangagwa Jr, the son of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, ahead of a summit of African leaders in Washington, DC.
The penalties against Mnangagwa Jr were laid out in a US Treasury Department press release on Monday, alongside sanctions for three other individuals and two entities.
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“The Zimbabwe sanctions programme targets human rights abusers and those who undermine democratic processes or facilitate corruption. US sanctions do not target the Zimbabwean people, the country of Zimbabwe, or Zimbabwe’s banking sector,” the press release states.
The sanctions come one day before US President Joe Biden is scheduled to host a summit of African leaders in Washington, DC, to discuss issues such as climate change and food insecurity. About 50 African leaders are expected to participate.
The US Treasury alleged that those targeted by Monday’s sanctions were tied to the businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei and his Sakunda Holdings company.
Tagwirei is accused of using his wealth to cultivate relationships with high-level government officials, receiving state contracts and access to hard currency in exchange for luxury items such as expensive cars. He was sanctioned in 2020.
The sanctions freeze the US assets of those designated and generally bars Americans from engaging in business dealings with them.
Mnangagwa Jr’s father, the Zimbabwean president, had his own US assets blocked in 2003 after the administration of then-President George W Bush sanctioned him for “undermining democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe”.
Monday’s announcement alleged that Mnangagwa Jr has been in charge of business interests owned by his father and related to Tagwirei.
In addition to Mnangagwa Jr, sanctions also hit Tagwirei’s wife Sandra Mpunga, as well as Sakunda’s chief marketing and public relations officer Nqobile Magwizi and Obey Chimuka, a business partner of Tagwirei.
Chimuka owns the civil works company Fossil Contracting and is the director of the agricultural chemical company Fossil Agro. Both firms were also sanctioned in connection to Tagwirei and his business.
“We urge the Zimbabwean government to take meaningful steps towards creating a peaceful, prosperous, and politically vibrant Zimbabwe, and to address the root causes of many of Zimbabwe’s ills: corrupt elites and their abuse of the country’s institutions for their personal benefit,” the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in Monday’s statement.