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Biti has keys for sanctions removal

by Staff reporter
07 September 2011 | 1796 Views
Finance Minister Tendai Biti's role in approving individuals and institutions making the West's sanctions list and well as his political ambitions have once again been confirmed by a cable leaked by the whistle blower website, wikileaks.

In the cable, American Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, says Mr. Biti had written him a letter requesting that three banks be removed from the US Treasury's sanctions list.

Ray recommends to the US Treasury that Biti's request be honoured.

"The information available to me indicates that these three banks no longer have any role in supporting Mugabe. This would cost us little while working to the advantage of reformers who stick their necks out to bring democracy back to Zimbabwe, and it would serve to undercut and weaken ZANU-PF rhetoric regarding sanctions," he says.

He adds, "If we believe that sanctions give us leverage, now is the time to use it."

According to wikileaks, the letter, dated December 29, names three state-owned banks as candidates for de-listing: the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), Agribank and ZB Bank and Building Society (ZB).

The cable also reveals that the banks have previously disclosed secret information about their clients to the US government.

Says Ray, "All of the information available to me locally indicates that these banks are professionally managed and commercially driven entities. Agribank and ZB have provided candid responses to all of our requests for information, including closely held lists of their most important banking clients."

He recommends, "There is, I sincerely believe, far greater risk for us in ignoring Biti's request. Biti, his MDC colleagues, and other brave Zimbabweans are in a high-stakes, long-term struggle to restore democracy to their country. We should not miss opportunities to help them "chip away at the fascist dictatorship," as Biti likes to put it.

"De-listing these three banks will, at no cost to us, let Biti push his reform agenda a few inches forward and further bolster his standing as the most effective minister in the transitional government.

He admits, "Ignoring his request, by contrast, will leave us with the untenable status quo of our current sanctions policy, which has so far had no effect on Mugabe's actions. If we believe sanctions give us leverage, now is the time to use it to Biti's advantage, and perhaps be an impetus at some point for further moves in a positive direction."

The MDC-T party has for long refused or stalled the process of calling for the removal of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

The British have said they can only remove sanctions on Zimbabwe in consultation with the MDC.

"In respect of sanctions, we have made it clear that they can be lifted only in a calibrated way, as progress is made. I do not think that it is right to say that the choice is between lifting all sanctions and lifting none at all.

"We have to calibrate our response to the progress on the ground, and, above all, to be guided by what the MDC says to us about the conditions under which it is working and leading the country," Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.

Biti Sanctions

Source: Wikileaks I zbc


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