The Trump administration will maintain sanctions the United States imposed against Zimbabwe despite the change of leadership in Harare, a senior official has confirmed.
Washington imposed a raft of sanctions against Zimbabwe nearly two decades ago supposedly to force then president Robert Mugabe to change course amid allegations of gross human rights abuses and electoral fraud.
Mugabe rejected the allegations, maintaining instead that Harare was being punished for its controversial land reforms which were meant, he argued, to correct historical injustices in ownership of the key resource.
Mugabe was toppled by the military and his own Zanu PF party last month after 37 years in power.
But that will not however, make any difference regarding the sanctions regime, US state department official Stephanie Sullivan said this Tuesday during a senate committee hearing.
The hearing was attended by MDC Alliance representative Tendai Biti and representatives of rights groups. Also in Washington as part of a new diplomatic offensive is MDC-T vice president Nelson Chamisa.
Sullivan said Washington would neither lift its sanctions nor free up new money for Harare until the new Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government commits to implementing political reforms.
"It is not enough to say it (Harare administration) is a new government. We are engaging the new government with an open mind. It is not enough to say those sanctions previously imposed on the country would not apply," Sullivan said.
Zimbabwe has repeatedly demanded that the US removes the sanctions, with former president Robert blaming them for the country's economic collapse.
However, author and pro-democracy activist Peter Godwin, who also served as witnesses before the Senate hearing, insisted sanctions were responsible for social and economic strife in the country.
"We have lost a whole generation to the situation of Zimbabwe," he explained.
"The sanctions are on an individual basis and have never effectively affected the country though Zanu PF has constantly found an excuse for its failures."