The United States on Wednesday slapped sanctions against a Zimbabwean businessman with links to President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the global backlash continued against alleged rights abuses by the Harare authorities.In a statement, the US Treasury Department embargoed Kudakwashe Tagwirei and his Sakunda Holdings for allegedly bankrolling Mnangagwa’s government, which has come under fire in recent weeks for cracking down on critics.
“Tagwirei and other Zimbabwean elites have derailed economic development and harmed the Zimbabwean people through corruption,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich said.
The latest US action corresponded with the second anniversary of the Zimbabwean government’s violent crackdown against its citizens who were protesting flawed government elections and the delayed results of the election.
The crackdown resulted in the deaths of at least six civilians on 1 August 2018.
Tagwirei is a Zimbabwean businessman with longstanding links with the ruling ZANU PF and high-level government officials.
The businessman has allegedly utilized his relationships with Mnangagwa and other high-level Zimbabwean officials to gain state contracts and receive favoured access to scarce hard currency.
He has, in turn, allegedly provided expensive gifts such as cars to senior Zimbabwean government officials.
Government audit reports prompted a 2019 parliamentary inquiry into whether public funds were misappropriated, revealing the government had failed to account for about US$3 billion disbursed under the Command Agriculture program, a state farm subsidy championed by President Mnangagwa and largely financed by Sakunda Holdings.
Tagwirei and Sakunda Holdings join hundreds of Zimbabwean officials and businesses who have had their US assets frozen or have been forbidden from having business dealings with American companies or travelling to the US.
The US Treasury Department also announced Wednesday the removal of sanctions on John Bredenkamp, another businessman who had links to Mnangagwa. Bredenkamp died in June.
The latest sanctions announcement comes in the wake of a recent global outcry over the Zimbabwean authorities’ handling of a recent anti-government protest during which several opposition activists and regime critics were arrested.