The US has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa for corruption and human rights abuses.

The order also affects other senior leaders in the country – blocking their assets in the US and barring them from unofficial travel there.

The new sanctions replace a broader programme that was introduced two decades ago.

“We continue to witness gross abuses of political, economic, and human rights,” the White House said in a statement.

“The targeting of civil society and severe restrictions on political activity have stifled fundamental freedoms, while key actors, including government leaders, have siphoned off public resources for personal gains,” it added.

“These illicit activities support and contribute to a global criminal network of bribery, smuggling, and money laundering that impoverish communities in Zimbabwe, southern Africa, and other parts of the world.”

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, meanwhile cited “multiple cases of abductions, physical abuse, and unlawful killing” in Zimbabwe that had left people “living in fear”.

The White House said it was “refocusing and elevating its efforts to hold accountable the individuals and entities that are responsible for this exploitation”.

Those on the list include First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri.

Various other senior security officials, including members of Zimbabwe’s national police and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), are also targeted – as are businesspeople found to have facilitated state corruption.

They include presidential advisor Kudakwashe Tagwirei, his wife and two of their businesses.

All other people that were previously sanctioned by the US and are not on the new list have had their restrictions lifted.

A spokesman for the Zimbabwean government, Nick Mnangagwa, described the lifting of the old sanctions programme as a “great vindication of President Mnangagwa’s Foreign Policy” and called the new tariffs “illegal”.

Farai Muroiwa Marapira, a spokesman for Mr Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu PF party said the president’s “policy of being a friend to all and an enemy to none and having our doors open to all has yielded bittersweet results”.

“If the president, the first lady and senior officials remain sanctioned then Zimbabwe remains sanctioned and burdened by this illegality,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

The US first imposed economic and travel sanctions on Zimbabwe in the early 1990s – targeting then president Robert Mugabe and dozens of other high-ranking government officials, whom Washington accused of undermining democracy in the country.

Various countries including the UK and European Union members have also placed sanctions on Zimbabwe.

President Mnangagwa, who was sworn in for a second term as the country’s last year, has in the past blamed the economic tariffs for crippling development in the country.