March 3, President Barack Obama issued an executive order extending U.S.-imposed economic sanctions against the people of Zimbabwe for another year, claiming Zimbabwe “continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. foreign policy.” The sanctions have been in effect since the 2001 Zimbabwe Democracy Economic Recovery Act, penned by former Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and the late Jesse Helms, was signed into law by former President George W. Bush. For the past 14 years, the people of Zimbabwe have lost $42 billion in revenue as a result.

The sanctions were introduced as Zimbabwean President Robert G. Mugabe began the Land Reform Program, which redistributed vast amounts of arable land back to the masses of Zimbabweans. In 1980, Zimbabwe fought an armed liberation war against the British colonizers and won. Subsequently, the British and the U.S. reneged on the negotiated deal to pay the remaining 4,500 European colonizers for the land they grabbed from the indigenous people. The situation could no longer be tolerated by the people.

Roger Wareham, international human rights attorney and member of the December 12th Movement International Secretariat, stated, “I, along with other members of the U.S. Black community, read with outrage and disbelief that on March 3, President Obama extended the U.S. sanctions against Zimbabwe, which have been in place since 2003.

“Why? Without presenting any facts, President Obama tells us that a tiny, landlocked nation of 12 million people in Southern Africa ‘poses an unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. foreign policy.’ How does it do that? What people are responsible and what have they done?”

Sanctions are a harsh form of punishment. They have little to no effect on the government officials that they target while having a devastating impact on the people of the country. They destabilize an economy, create untold hardships on the people and can generate the grounds for “regime change.” Sanctions kill, and they have done so in Zimbabwe.”

In 2013, Mugabe was re-elected by the people of Zimbabwe to serve another five-year term despite Western efforts to destabilize the economy and force regime change.

In addition, Mugabe now chairs both the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, which puts him in a unique position to steer the political and economic direction of African leadership toward serving the interests of Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora.

“African people must demand a detailed explanation from President Obama on his decision and demand that upon review of the facts, he sign an order lifting the sanctions and repealing the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001. End the sanctions now,” said Wareham. “Please call the number below to the White House and tell President Obama that you oppose his March 3 executive order of sanctions against Zimbabwe.

“Call the president at 202-456-1111 and 202-456-1414 or via the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments.”