The American embassy in Zimbabwe says the recently announced sanctions against selected officials in the government of President Robert Mugabe are a form of protest against what the United States government sees as deteriorating democratic standards in that country.
Joseph Sullivan, the U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, says his government's concerns can be traced back to Zimbabwe’s presidential elections last year. Mr. Sullivan says they did not meet democratic standards and that the events that followed threatened fundamental human freedoms.
Last week, the U.S. government issued a list of 79 sanctioned Zimbabwean officials, among them President Robert Mugabe himself and his wife, Grace. Their assets in the United States will be frozen and they will not be allowed to conduct business there. The U.S. government says the named officials have been targeted for their alleged role in the formulation and execution of policies that have hindered the growth of a democratic culture in Zimbabwe.
Ambassador Sullivan says the targeted sanctions have not affected U.S. assistance to the people of Zimbabwe. He cites as an example last year's volume of assistance, which totaled 36 million U.S. dollars, which went to the purchase of food relief and support for HIV and AIDS activities in the country. But the targeted sanctions have drawn angry reactions.
William Nhara, the Executive Director of the Harare-based Institute for Democracy and Good Governance says the U.S. applies different standards to different countries depending on what it wants, citing the current controversy over Iraq.
However, despite their political differences, Harare and Washington continue to maintain diplomatic ties.