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U.S. Sanctions Policy: Facts and Myths

United States Assistance to Zimbabwe 1980 - 2013

Fact: U.S. targeted sanctions apply to only 113 Zimbabwean individuals and 70 entities (mostly farms and legal entities owned by the 113 individuals) as of February 18, 2014.  For an up-to-date list, please go to and select “Zimbabwe” from the list on the Program menu.

Complete information on the U.S. targeted sanctions program is available at the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) website:

Click on the “Overview of Sanctions” link for a summary of the sanctions program.

Fact: The United States implemented the targeted sanctions program in 2003 as a result of the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons undermining democratic institutions and processes in Zimbabwe. 

Myth: "The U.S. maintains an embargo on Zimbabwe."

Fact: Certain persons have been targeted for sanctions on the basis of their connection to the Government of Zimbabwe.  However, U.S. sanctions do not block the Government of Zimbabwe as a whole, nor do they prohibit all business with the country of Zimbabwe or transactions involving that jurisdiction.   The United States has imported good from Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe has imported goods from the United States on an ongoing basis both before and after the targeted sanctions commenced.  For current United States-Zimbabwe trade statistics, please go to:

Myth: “ZDERA” (The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economy Recovery Act) is the U.S. targeted sanctions program.

Fact: The U.S. targeted sanctions program is not governed by ZDERA.  They are different policies enacted by different branches of the U.S. Government. 

The Zimbabwe targeted sanctions program began on March 7, 2003 when the President of the United States  issued Executive Order (“E.O.”) 13288 (PDF 168 KB).  The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) implements the targeted sanctions policy.

ZDERA (PDf 130 KB) is a law enacted by the U.S. Congress in 2001 which restricts the United States to vote in support of new assistance to Zimbabwe from international financial institutions. 

Myth: “The United States is preventing Zimbabwe’s access to international financial assistance.”

Fact: The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economy Recovery Act (ZDERA) restricts the United States to vote in support of new assistance to Zimbabwe from international financial institutions (IFI’s), except for programs that meet basic human needs or promote democracy.  It is important to understand, however, that Zimbabwe became ineligible for multilateral loans in 1999, well before ZDERA because it stopped repaying loans already owed to the IFIs. 

Myth: "The U.S. has cut off aid to Zimbabwe."

Fact:  Since 1980, the U.S. has provided over $2 billion in assistance to Zimbabwe.  In 2013 alone, our support to Zimbabwe was over $130 million, largely in health, agricultural development, humanitarian assistance, and support for democratic institutions, rule of law and human rights.

To see full details of the U.S.'s Assistance to Zimbabwe, view this chart.

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