The United States has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe’s state security minister, Owen Ncube, over what it says is credible information of his involvement in “gross violations of human rights,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
Pompeo said in a statement that Washington was troubled by the “Zimbabwean government’s use of state-sanctioned violence against” protesters, opposition leaders, and labor leaders.
Two years after the ouster of Zimbabwe’s longtime ruler Robert Mugabe by the army and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, people are still grappling with triple-digit inflation and shortages of basic goods like fuel.
Last month, doctors took to the streets after Peter Magombeyi, their union leader and one of the organizers of an effort to demand higher wages for state doctors, went missing.
Ncube said at the time that Magombeyi’s case was being treated as a disappearance, not an abduction, as his colleagues have alleged.
Human rights groups say they have recorded more than 20 cases of abductions of activists by state security agents since January. The government denies any involvement.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa on Friday described Western sanctions as a “cancer” sapping the economy, and his supporters denounced the measures during marches held around the country.
Mnangagwa, like Mugabe, blames the sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union since 2001 for the economic ills and says they are intended to remove his party from power.
“Every part and sector of our economy has been affected by these sanctions like a cancer,” Mnangagwa told a sparse crowd in Harare’s 60,000-seater national stadium. “Enough is enough, remove them. Remove these sanctions now!”