ZDERA – The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act

The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act became law in the United States in December 2001. In the U.S., it is normally referred to as ZDERA. In Zimbabwe, following the practice of the local press, people usually call it ZIDERA. This small difference in spelling and its acceptance in Zimbabwe is an indicator of how public perception within Zimbabwe of U.S. sanctions policy has been moulded.

The key sanctions myth broadcast by ZANU(PF) is that ZDERA has brought ruin upon Zimbabwe’s economy by blocking access to financing from the IMF, World Bank, and African Development Bank. In reality no U.S. law can block lending by these international financial institutions. The boards of these institutions decide on lending to member countries, and the U.S. does not exercise a veto in any of the
boards. It is worth noting that the AfDB board has approved several projects for Zimbabwe despite ZDERA. For details, go to http://www.afdb.org/en/countries/southern-africa/zimbabwe.

It is also important to note that Zimbabwe was ineligible for loans from the IMF, World Bank, and AfDB well before ZDERA became law. The reason for this is the debt arrears Zimbabwe began to accumulate in the late 1990s. Zimbabwe’s debt arrears remain the primary obstacle to new multilateral lending and debt relief.

The main provisions of ZDERA commit the U.S. to support debt relief, financial assistance, and technical support for Zimbabwe once the government has restored the rule of law, held free and fair elections, made the security forces subordinate to civilian government, and committed to transparent land reform. You can find the text of ZDERA online at this link:


For more information on U.S. sanctions policy with respect to Zimbabwe, check out the U.S. Embassy’s sanctions web page at:



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