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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 11th June 2020

Mnangagwa's foreign foes

Blue Lines

An extraordinary letter from James E Risch, chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to World Bank President David Malpass called for the strictest accountability on a $7 million grant to Zimbabwe managed by the UN and the Catholic Church.

Risch wants the bank to stop the money falling into the hands of government, which it accuses of using foreign aid to 'suppress its population and enrich the ruling elite'. Opposition activists say Emmerson Mnangagwa's government is spending millions on over-priced medical supplies benefiting companies linked to the President's son Collins. The letter, copied to US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, suggests a still tougher line towards the government, which has been asking the Paris Club for emergency relief on its debt obligations. The Paris Club response is likely to be negative as conditions in the country deteriorate.

On 9 June, the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva called for an immediate end to abductions and torture by the government. This follows claims from three opposition activists, Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, that they were beaten and raped by police last month. Mnangagwa dismissed the claims as a foreign plot designed to foment unrest. And on 10 June, surrounded by generals, he called a press conference to dismiss widespread reports of a plot by ruling party dissidents and mutinous officers, to overthrow him in favour of a new government of national unity.