Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, James Garry, the new US second secretary in Zimbabwe, said trade between the two countries had doubled since the sanctions were introduced in 2003.
Garry said: “American companies are doing business in Zimbabwe every day.”
He said the only proviso was that US companies were not allowed to trade with Zimbabwean citizens, or companies, on the sanctions list.
Garry said that, contrary to Mugabe’s claims, the US has never used the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act to block trade with Zimbabwe.
Garry said the US act, which compels US citizens with voting rights on the board of multilateral lenders to vote against Zimbabwe’s attempts to access loans, had not been implemented.
The US diplomat said Zimbabwe had already been disqualified from getting more IMF loans – because it was in arrears with its loan repayments to the institution – when the act was drafted.
Mugabe has blamed his country’s economic collapse on “illegal” sanctions imposed by the West. He says sanctions are the greatest threat to the unity government.
Garry reiterated that targeted sanctions affect only Mugabe and his close allies, who are accused of gross human rights violations.
Mugabe was expected to open parliament today. This time he is likely to blame sanctions for his failure to deliver on his election promises.
Last year, Mugabe was booed and heckled by MDC MPs during his speech at the official opening of parliament.
With the unity government partners at each other’s throats, the opening of parliament promises to be a volatile affair.
Yesterday, riot police were deployed all over the capital.