Trump Govt hit Sanyatwe with US sanctions over 1 August army killings

Sibanda(L), Sanyatwe(R)

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s government has placed former Presidential Guard commander and Zimbabwe’s ambassador-designate to Tanzania Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe and his wife Chido Machona under sanctions for “gross human rights violations”.

Sanyatwe was head of the National Reaction Force that used live bullets on protestors and killed 6 civilians and injured 35 more on August 1, 2018.

Shortly after this, he was then promoted from the rank of Brigadier General to Major General in December. He made headlines during the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry hearings when he claimed that the soldier who was recorded firing his gun into the crowd was actually firing his weapon into the air as the gun was at a 45-degree angle.

Barely three months later, Mnangagwa promoted Sanyatwe again to the rank of Lieutenant-General (the rank of the Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army) although Sanyatwe and three other generals were retired from the army and deployed to the diplomatic corps.

Announcing the sanctions, the State Department said,

The Secretary of State is publicly designating Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, former Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army’s Presidential Guard Brigade and current Ambassador Designate of Zimbabwe to Tanzania, under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act (Div. F, P.L. 116-6), due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights. Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States. The Department has credible information that Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe was involved in the violent crackdown against unarmed Zimbabweans during post-election protests on August 1, 2018 that resulted in six civilian deaths.

The law also requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and immediate family members. In addition to the designation of Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, the Department is also publicly designating his spouse, Chido Machona.

To date, the Government of Zimbabwe has held no member of the security forces accountable for the acts of violence committed against Zimbabweans on August 1, 2018. Furthermore, there has been no accountability for the excessive use of force by Zimbabwean security forces on civilians in January and February this year, which reportedly resulted in at least 13 deaths, 600 victims of violence, torture or rape, and more than 1,000 arrests. We again call on Zimbabwean authorities to hold accountable those officials responsible for human rights violations and abuses in Zimbabwe.