ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has taken a visiting US delegation to task over sanctions imposed against the Southern African nation.
Mr Mugabe told the US congressmen and congresswomen that Zimbabwe and the US had enjoyed cordial relations in the past until its former president, George Bush, sided with Britain’s then prime minister Tony Blair, who rejected the country’s land reform programme in 2000.
The nonagenarian described the delegation’s visit as “quite rare”.
“We had settled all the steps to settle our people but when the labour party took over, they wanted to reverse it completely and we said no. Zimbabwe was a free country. We had Bush imposing sanctions and we were surprised,” Mr Mugabe said.
“We know they wanted to please Blair and the sanctions have remained on. Mr Bush decided to impose sanctions on us and the senate and congress said yes, we deserve sanctions,” Mr Mugabe was quoted saying.
The European Union (EU) and the US imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe after they accused Mr Mugabe of trampling on human rights, rigging elections and repression of press freedom — accusations that the veteran leader continues to deny.
The sanctions have led to devastating economic challenges, with about 85% of the country’s inhabitants unemployed.
Meanwhile, the EU has extended its sanctions on Zimbabwe and a travel ban imposed on Mr Mugabe to February 2017, according to a report in New Zimbabwe.
The development is likely to anger Harare, which has been warming to the western countries as it tries to revive its fallen economy, the report said.