PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is among an “exclusive club of the world’s dictators”, who remain on United States President Donald Trump’s radar, it has emerged.
US national security adviser Herbert McMaster told a Press briefing on Monday that the “exclusive group of dictators”, which includes Mugabe, had gained notoriety for rampant human rights abuses.
McMaster was reacting to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s decision to force through a controversial poll that seeks to create a body to review the South American country’s constitution.
“Maduro is not just a bad leader. He is now a dictator. By this action, Maduro is joining an exclusive club of outlaw world leaders, like Bashar al-Assad (Syria), Kim Jong Un (North Korea), and Robert Mugabe,” McMaster said.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba dismissed McMaster’s comments as “incidental”.
“A big and sovereign country such as Zimbabwe cannot fit within an incidental reference by an official of the American government. We don’t take that seriously. It’s a snide remark reflecting more on the mood of the Press conference than official American policy,” he said.
McMaster was joined by US Treasury chief Steven Mnuchin, who announced sanctions against Maduro and told journalists the Venezuelan President was one of four leaders to have received such treatment under the Office of Foreign Assets Control.
“Yesterday’s (Sunday’s) illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people. By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy,” Mnuchin said.
In 2005, then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described Zimbabwe, together with Cuba, Myanmar and Belarus, as “outposts of tyranny”.
Mugabe and members of his inner circle were subjected to “targetted” US sanctions after the American government crafted the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act in 2001 in a bid to rein in the veteran leader.
The Zanu PF leader is accused of a litany of breaches including human rights abuses, electoral theft and general bad governance.
The sanctions against Mugabe have been renewed over the years, with the Zimbabwean leader blaming the targeted measures for the country’s debilitating economic crisis that saw the dumping of the local currency.
Critics of Mugabe’s administration, however, argue that the Zanu PF leader’s archaic policies, including the ruinous land grab, said to redress colonial land imbalances, are to blame.