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A TOP United States diplomat has told Harare that removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe would depend on the missing human rights activist Itai Dzamara.

Visiting US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Steven Feldstein said a positive review of the sanctions would depend on Harare “giving facts” regarding the missing activist.

The US imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2001, accusing President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party of rights abuses and electoral fraud.

Mugabe denies the charges and blames the sanctions for the country’s unending economic woe.

In March this year, President Barack Obama ignored Harare’s demands to lift the damaging sanctions and extended them for another year, describing Mugabe and his administration as posing “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States”.

Addressing human rights defenders, diplomats, political leaders and members of the civil society in Harare Wednesday, Feldstein said government efforts to find Dzamara would guide the US on the next review of the sanctions.

“This to us (disappearance of Dzamara) is something that raises significant concerns and we have discussed with the government that they have to conduct a full and transparent investigation,” said the US envoy.

“We have had the allegations and the circumstances of the disappearance and I think it’s important that we have the facts as quickly as we can.

“We do not know what has happened to Mr Dzamara. What we know is that we are concerned when someone who has a common and primary human rights voice, who is representing the civil society in Zimbabwe, all of a sudden, disappears without any real answers.

“Our government takes serious the issue of human right when it comes to diplomatic relations and development.”

Dzamara was abducted on 9 March in his Harare’s Glen View home area. Opposition parties claim that he was taken by state security agents.

Prior to his disappearance, the journalist cum-human rights activist had staged peaceful demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF government, accusing them of failing to create jobs and turn around the country’s economy.

Rights groups say, since then, the government has done nothing to search and find him despite the existence of a High court order directing it to do so.

Source : New Zimbabwe