Press release

Zimbabwe: Advancing Accountability for Postelection Violence

The United States imposes sanctions to condemn postelection violence against civilians by the Zimbabwe National Army in 2018.


In response to the United States’ decision to impose sanctions on Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, former commander of the Zimbabwe National Army’s Presidential Guard Brigade, for his involvement in state violence against civilians on August 1, 2018, in the wake of disputed elections, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The government of Zimbabwe has made no concerted efforts to hold accountable those responsible for the postelection violence in 2018, part of a pattern of impunity for senior officials involved in gross human rights violations that goes back decades,” said Jon Temin, director of Africa programs at Freedom House. “The United States imposing sanctions on a former senior army officer is an important step. If Zimbabwean authorities continue to take no action to bring those responsible for the violence to justice, additional individuals should be designated for sanctions under US law. The Southern African Development Community and the European Union should consider matching these targeted sanctions. Ultimately, Zimbabweans should determine the trajectory of their country, both by addressing their past through reconciliation and accountability and through an inclusive and broad-based dialogue.”


Following elections on July 30, 2018, through which Emmerson Mnangagwa retained the presidency despite allegations of electoral malfeasance, members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change organized protests in the capital, Harare, and elsewhere in the country. Zimbabwean soldiers used live ammunition against the protesters, killing six. A commission of inquiry established to investigate the violence, headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, concluded that “the evidence provides no justification for the use of live ammunition directly against protestors.” The commission’s recommendations have yet to be implemented.

Zimbabwe is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2019 and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2018.