U.S., U.K. Urge Zimbabwe to Deliver on Long-Promised Reforms

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The U.S., U.K. and four other governments urged Zimbabwe to deliver on long-promised reforms to help end the nation’s political and economic crisis.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to restrict citizens’ freedoms, the foreign missions said in a joint statement Friday. It’s also failing to address corruption and investigate and prosecute those responsible for human rights violations, they said.

Mnangagwa has repeatedly pledged economic and political reform, but a clampdown last month on opponents calling for mass protests against alleged state corruption has served to intensify international criticism of his government. Mnangagwa remains unmoved, saying the demonstrations were an “insurrection” that sought to overthrow his administration.

“The Zimbabwean people have the right to engage in dialogue to build a better future for their country,” the missions said. “But the necessary discussions have so far been hindered by unhelpful rhetoric and blame assigned to several groups.”

Government spokesman Nick Mangwana didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone and a text message seeking comment.

Zimbabwe is facing shortages of food, power and even water, while the nation’s currency has collapsed and inflation is running at more than 800%. It’s been shunned by multilateral lenders since defaulting on payments in 1999, and still owes $7.66 billion to financial institutions including the World Bank.

“We stand ready to provide support in response to meaningful progress on reforms,” the missions said.

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