Mugabe Says Give Trump A Chance To Lift Sanctions Against Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe has been under Western sanctions for most of this century, its authoritarian President Robert Mugabe accused of rigging elections, violating free speech and land grabbing.
Now that U.S. President Donald Trump is in power, Mugabe, 92, hopes U.S. sanctions will be lifted.
He said he approves of Trump prioritizing American interests, according an interview with state broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Europe Newsweek reported.
Mugabe held the interview with the state TV to mark his upcoming 93rd birthday on Tuesday. Africa’s oldest head of state and one of its longest running, Mugabe became prime minister in 1980 at independence and president in 1987.
He said he would have resigned long ago but millions of people wanted him to stay in power, The Citizen reported. He’s expected to win the next election in 2018.
“They (ruling Zanu-PF party) want me to stand for elections. Of course, if I feel that I can’t do it anymore, I will say so to my party so that they (can) relieve me. But, for now, I think I can’t say so,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe has long opposed Western intervention in Zimbabwe and has accused political and civil opponents of being sponsored by the U.S. Mugabe hopes Trump’s America first platform could bode well for Zimbabwe.
Trump should be given time to establish himself, Mugabe said. “When it comes to Donald Trump, on the one hand talking of American nationalism, well America for America, America for Americans—on that we agree. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans,” Mugabe said in excerpts published in the state-run Herald newspaper.
The U.S. imposed financial sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001 under President George W. Bush over concerns about Mugabe’s record on democracy and human rights. In his last week in office, President Barack Obama renewed the sanctions on Zimbabwe for another year.
“Why did he (Obama) have to do it? Why didn’t he leave it to the incoming incumbent to make his own decision?” Mugabe said in the interview. “We are just now under sanctions imposed not by Donald Trump but by Obama. What arrogance is that?”
Mugabe said he was glad that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton lost the election, Newsweek reported. He was afraid she would renew sanctions on Zimbabwe, and he hoped Trump would reconsider. “You see, I knew she [Clinton] could slap sanctions on us as a legacy,” he said.
Mugabe blames international sanctions for Zimbabwe’s economic problems.The sanctions have bee convenient for his admoinistration, who “routinely
blame all their failures on the measures,” New Zimbabwe reported.
Western governments started imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001 over allegations of vote-rigging and human rights abuses, IBTimes reported.
The U.S. imposed targeted sanctions in 2003 on 98 Zimbabwean individuals and 68 entities – mostly farms and entities owned by the 98 individuals. Sanctions included asset seizures and travel bans.
Mugabe officially endorsed Trump in July 2016. During the interview, Mugabe said he didn’t want U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to win. Clinton once compared Trump’s economic policies with those of Zimbabwe in the 1990s, which resulted in hyperinflation and a humanitarian and economic crisis, according to IB Times.
Mugabe’s increasingly influential wife, 51-year-old Grace Mugabe, made international headlines when she said that if Robert died before the next election, his corpse would still win.
The first lady is leading a faction to succeed Mugabe. Mugabe’s deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, leads another, The Citizen reported.