US slaps sanctions on son of Zimbabwe’s president ahead of Africa summit

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The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on the son of Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, several other Zimbabwean nationals and two entities, as part of Washington’s efforts to address corruption in the country.

The move comes the day before the start of the US – Africa Leaders Summit in Washington when US President Joe Biden will meet presidents of African countries.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said Monday’s move imposed sanctions on four Zimbabwean nationals and two entities it accused of being tied to businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei, who was designated by Washington in 2020 for providing support to the leadership of Zimbabwe.

The Treasury has accused Tagwirei of using his relationship with Zimbabwe officials to gain state contracts and receive favored access to hard currency, including US dollars, and in turn has provided items, including expensive cars, to senior officials of the country.

“Since former Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe’s 2017 departure, Tagwirei used a combination of opaque business dealings and his ongoing relationship with President Mnangagwa to grow his business empire dramatically and rake in millions of US dollars,” the statement read.

Washington on Monday said Emmerson Mnangagwa, Jr., the president’s son, has been in charge of the president’s business interests related to Tagwirei.

The president is also under US sanctions. Also hit with sanctions were Sandra Mpunga, Nqobile Magwizi, Fossil Agro, Fossil Contracting, and Obey Chimuka, for their ties to Tagwirei and his company, Sakunda Holdings.

Zimbabwe’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We urge the Zimbabwean government to take meaningful steps towards creating a peaceful, prosperous, and politically vibrant Zimbabwe, and to address the root causes of many of Zimbabwe’s ills: corrupt elites and their abuse of the country’s institutions for their personal benefit,” the Treasury’s Under Secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.

Monday’s move freezes any US assets of those designated and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.