New US sanctions 'to stifle Zimbabwe reforms'
The latest US sanctions against President Robert Mugabe's regime are designed to stifle economic recovery in Zimbabwe, his chief spokesman was quoted Sunday as saying, the AFP reported.
Secretary for Information George Charamba told the state-run Sunday Mail that the sanctions aimed at impeding Zimbabwean companies from finding partners in China, Iran and other eastern countries.
The US government last week expanded its sanctions regime by adding to it the names of several dozen individuals as well as 17 companies and parastatals linked to the Mugabe regime.
Since the imposition of targeted sanctions after disputed 2002 elections, some Western firms have shied away from doing business in Zimbabwe -- prompting Harare to adopted a "Look East" policy for trade and investment deals.
Zimbabwe, currently gripped by a post-election crisis, has been ravaged by a record hyperinflation which shot up from 165,000 percent in February to 2.2 million percent in June.
"The companies slapped with sanctions are those companies that are trying to validate the 'Look East' policy by entering into partnership with non-traditional investors," Charamba said.
"Western interests are now threatened by these non-traditional investors from China, Iran and other Asian countries," he added.
The US Treasury Department said the sanctions would be imposed on 17 companies or entities as well as on an Omani national.
It said Mugabe, 84, his senior officials and regime's cronies "have used these entities to illegally siphon revenue and foreign exchange from the Zimbabwean people".
Among the targeted entities are Operation Sovereign Legitimacy, described as the commercial arm of the Zimbabwean armed forces, and the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, a marketing and export agent for all minerals except gold and silver mined in the country.
Others are the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, the country's largest steel works, as well as a number of banks and holding companies.