THE United States government under Donald Trump has on Tuesday tightened screws on the economic embargo against Zimbabwe and have with immediate effect stopped importation of artisanal rought cut diamonds, Zim Morning Post can report.
The US Customs and Border Protection issued a Withhold Release order for the Marange gems citing that this development was necessitated by evidence at hand proving that the diamonds were extracted using forced labour.
“US law prohibits importation of goods made with forced labour,” read part of the statement.
In March, Trump extended sanctions against the country by a year, saying that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s policies continue to pose an “unusual and extraordinary” threat to the American foreign policy.
The renewal came despite calls by African leaders, including South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, for the sanctions to be lifted to give the country a chance to recover from its economic crisis.
“The actions and policies of these persons continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States,” Trump said in a notice announcing the extension then.
“I am continuing for [one] year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288.”
Trump administration officials had said the sanctions will remain until the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa changes Zimbabwe’s laws restricting media freedom and allowing protests.
According to US officials, there are 141 entities and individuals in Zimbabwe currently under US sanctions, including Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa has called for the sanctions to be lifted against the ZANU-PF ruling party, top military figures and some government-owned firms, which were imposed during the late Robert Mugabe’s rule over what the US said were human rights violations and undermining of the democratic process.
Zimbabwe is going through its worst economic crisis in a decade. Low on cash reserves, the southern African nation is battling severe fuel shortages.
On Monday the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe banned the use of cash-in, cash-out mobile money transfers via Ecocash.