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Khupe leads POLAD members on multi-million dollar globetrotting

A POLAD subcommittee led by Thokozani Khupe (chairperson), Willard Mugadza (deputy chairperson), Kwanele Hlabangana (rapporteur), Aplonia Munzverengwi (committee member) and Khaliphani Phugeni (spokesperson) is set to travel to the US in March. It will also visit other global capitals including Paris and Brussels to lobby for the removal of sanctions among other objectives.

MEMBERS of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) will spend at least $80 million (US$4.5 million) this year visiting global capitals that include Washington, Brussels, London and Paris on what Government says is an international re-engagement drive meant to spruce up the country’s image in the face of the elusive global capital and investment.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa initiated the POLAD in May last year to bring together leaders of parties that participated in the 2018 general elections to a discussion based on consensus.

However, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has insisted he will not be part of the POLAD process and wants a separate, direct interface with Zanu-PF leaders and the military.

According to a report by the Zimbabwe Independent, as part of its international travels, the POLAD re-engagement sub-committee will be in the US from March 24 to 26, where it will, among other tasks, lobby for the removal of sanctions.

The committee comprises Thokozani Khupe (chairperson), Willard Mugadza (deputy chairperson), Kwanele Hlabangana (rapporteur), Aplonia Munzverengwi (committee member) and Khaliphani Phugeni (spokesperson).

It will also visit South Africa, United Kingdom, and several other European countries.The team has so far met with the European Union (EU) ambassador Timo Olkkonen, British ambassador Melanie Robinson and American embassy officials.

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According to a POLAD handbook, the removal of sanctions “will go a long way in diffusing perceptions about Zimbabwe and give a new impetus to both the economy and opportunities for its people”.

Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba said the cost associated with the POLAD re-engagement committee’s mission was nothing compared to the cost of Western sanctions.

“Now you say ZW$80 million. How much is that compared with the cost of sanctions? They are chasing a programme to have the sanctions removed. And remember they are going to be paying in United States dollars where they are going, they need to pay for accommodation, food, travel,” Charamba said.

“It is a mission, and they are actually pulling a pillar policy of the Second Republic. It is part of their commitment on areas they wanted to look at, including the legislative reforms, policy reforms, uniting the nation and economic recovery. It is part of a solution to a common challenge.”

This comes as US Senators Jim Risch (a Republican from Idaho), chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Chris Coons (a Democrat from Delaware), member of the sub-committee on Africa and global health policy, sent a letter last week to Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting that the US Department of the Treasury update the list of sanctioned persons in Zimbabwe.

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“While the United States has been the top provider of humanitarian and development aid to meet the needs of Zimbabwe’s people, the government of Zimbabwe has implemented a misinformation campaign blaming the country’s woes on targeted sanctions programmes implemented by the United States,” the senators said.

“It is important that the United States communicate to the people of Zimbabwe that our sanctions programmes are aimed at deterring human rights abuses, public corruption, the undermining of democratic processes or institutions, and political repression in Zimbabwe. They are not aimed at the Zimbabwean people.

The US imposed sanctions on Zanu PF-linked individuals and entities known to facilitate human rights abuses, undermine the rule of law, and engage in the looting of state resources for personal or political gain.

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Zimbabwe Independent

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