WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. disappointment with Zimbabwe’s government keeps growing amid the heavy-handed response of authorities to any form of opposition, a senior State Department official said on Monday following a crackdown last week against protesters.
“The disappointment just keeps getting worse and worse, unfortunately,” said the official, speaking on background to reporters. “The government seems to be getting even more violent in their response to any form of opposition.”
The official said Washington had made clear to the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa what it would take to improve relations between Zimbabwe and the United States. U.S. officials have previously called on Mnangagwa to change Zimbabwe’s laws restricting media freedom and allowing protests.
Mnangagwa’s government last week banned anti-government protests by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which accuses the authorities of political repression and mismanaging the economy. Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds and barred access to the MDC’s Harare offices.
Anger among the population has mounted over triple-digit inflation, rolling power cuts and shortages of U.S. dollars, fuel and bread.
In March, President Donald Trump extended by one year U.S. sanctions against 100 entities and individuals in Zimbabwe, including Mnangagwa, saying his government had failed to bring about political and economic changes.
Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Sandra Maler