Mnangagwa calls for lifting of sanctions

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday called for the lifting of sanctions on members of the ruling elite, also saying the country’s elections scheduled for 2018 will be credible.

Travel and economic sanctions imposed by the US on several ZANU-PF officials, top military figures and some government-owned firms remain in place even after the end of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year-rule.

The EU lifted most of its sanctions in 2014 but kept them on Mugabe and his wife Grace.

“We call for the unconditional lifting of the political and economic sanctions, which have crippled our national development,” Mnangagwa told a meeting of the ZANU-PF central committee in downtown Harare.

“We realise that isolation is not splendid or viable as there is more to gain through solidarity, mutually beneficial partnerships,” he added.

Mnangagwa is Zimbabwe’s second president since independence, thanks to a military takeover that prompted Mugabe to resign in November.

In his inaugural speech, the new leader promised to hold elections as scheduled in 2018.

On Thursday, he reiterated that pledge, saying the poll will be free and fair.

“Government will do all in its powers to ensure that the elections are credible, free and fair. These elections are nearer than what you expect,” Mnangagwa said.

The ruling and opposition parties have said they will ask electoral authorities to extend next week’s voter registration deadline into February after the de facto military coup last month disrupted the registration process.

Mnangagwa is expected to be confirmed as the ruling party’s candidate for the vote at a special one-day congress on Friday.