News / Africa

    US Envoys Rule Out Change in Relations With Zimbabwe

    File - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe listens after a swearing-in ceremony at the State House in Harare, Zimbabwe.
    File - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe listens after a swearing-in ceremony at the State House in Harare, Zimbabwe.

    Two visiting U.S. diplomats have ruled out a change of policy with Zimbabwe.  

    Speaking to reporters Wednesday in Harare, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Shannon Smith said the United States would not relax travel bans and other sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his leadership as the European Union did earlier this year.

    "We certainly talk to our colleagues in [the] European Union. We certainly leave discussions of their policies to them. We all continue to share the goals that we expressed today," said Smith.

    "They will make their choices about to best pursue them. We are not here to announce any policy changes. The United States, though we want to emphasize, we want Zimbabwe to prosper," she said. "We engage in activities to support economic development, as well as in health, education, [and] agriculture as well as in democratic institutions."

    Rare visit

    The four-day visit of two U.S. diplomats to Zimbabwe is a rare occurrence in recent years because of frosty Washington-Harare relations. The United States, along with many other Western countries, imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe's leadership in 2002 following reports of election rigging and human rights abuses.  

    The United States remains the leading provider of humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe, though, in areas of food aid, HIV/AIDS prevention programs, democracy, humanitarian assistance, economic growth, agriculture and health infrastructure support.

    Before the visit, Zimbabwe’s permanent secretary for foreign affairs Joey Bimha said Harare wanted to re-engage with Washington. The State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary Steven Feldstein said it is too early, however, to talk of normalizing Washington-Harare relations.

    "From the United States perspective, we have a long standing human rights violations that include intimidation, harassment, torture and forced disappearances. We are now entering the third month into the disappearances of Itai Dzamara," said Feldstein.

    "He is a prominent civil society activist and his disappearance is something that is a strong concern to the United States. We have raised the issue of his disappearance with the government," he said. "We hope that the government of Zimbabwe, including the police and security services, honor the rights of Zimbabweans, including to demonstrate freely and to express their views. "

    Dzamara's disappearance

    Itai Dzamara went missing on March 9. Zimbabwean police say Dzamara's wife last saw her husband when five men forced him into a car before driving off.

    The opposition and civic organizations have been accusing Mugabe’s government of being behind the abduction. The activist had been staging protests to force Zimbabwe’s 91-year-old leader to step down for failing to prop up the country’s economy.

    Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa told parliament that Harare had no issue with the missing activist and will arrest those who kidnapped him.

    No African government has raised concern over his disappearance. It has been mainly the opposition, civic organizations and Western countries that have protested his disappearance. The visiting American diplomats said they would raise the issue again when they meet Zimbabwean officials this week.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    Diplomats Hope to Revive Cradle of Civilization After Defeat of IS

    Diplomats from around globe gather at US State Department, discuss how to rebuild minority communities shattered by Islamic State group

    Women Voters Look Past Gender in Assessing Clinton

    She's the first female presidential nominee, but party identification, other factors outweigh gender

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Makotsi from: Harare
    May 14, 2015 3:04 PM
    USA has permanent interests and not permanent friends. It will be naive for Zimbabwean government to expect anything good from Lucifer's emissary.

    by: lloyd from: durban
    May 14, 2015 8:47 AM
    Mugabe must step down we are tired enough of him, not even an unborn baby likes him.
    In Response

    by: festo tembo
    May 15, 2015 3:28 AM
    Snubbed yet again. Mugabe does not learn.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora