The announcement on Monday from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] came a day before some 50 African leaders were due to be in Washington for the U.S. - Africa Leader's Summit.
President Mnangagwa's son was put on the sanctions list for "being an immediate family member of the Zimbabwean president, OFAC-blocked Emmerson Mnangagwa."
OFAC also said Mnangagwa, Jr. was put under sanctions for his role representing his father's business interests related to OFAC-sanctioned Zimbabwean Kudakwashe Tagwirei, and his company, Sakunda Holdidngs.
The Treasury Department statement said Tagwirei has used both opaque dealings and its close relationship with President Mnangagwa to snare contracts worth millions of U.S. dollars.
OFAC also asserts that Sakunda Holdings has lavished Zimbabwean officials with expensive cars and other gifts.
Zimbabwe's Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa did not immediately respond to VOA requests for comment.
The placement of sanctions by OFAC effectively freezes all property and interests in the name of Emmerson Mnangagwa, Jr. located in the United States, as well as any commercial or other entities that are 51% controlled by the president's son.
Under secretary of the Treasury Brian Nelson said the goal of sanctions are a "behavior change."
“We urge the Zimbabwean government to take meaningful steps towards creating a peaceful, prosperous, and politically vibrant Zimbabwe, and to address the root causes of many of Zimbabwe’s ills: corrupt elites and their abuse of the country’s institutions for their personal benefit," Nelson said in the statement.
"Today’s actions demonstrate our support for a transparent and prosperous Zimbabwe," he added.
In addition to Mnangagwa, Jr., OFAC also placed sanctions against Sandra Mpunga, the wife of Kudakwashe Tagwirei, Nqobile Magwizi, Obey Chimuka and his corporation, Fossil Contracting, and another company, Fossil Agro.