By Violet Gonda
22 February 2013
The United States is prepared to end targeted sanctions and re-engage in all areas of bilateral collaboration with Zimbabwe, if the inclusive government honors the commitments for reform they made in the Global Political Agreement and implements the election roadmap. This was said by two visiting US Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State in Harare on Friday.
Dr. Reuben Brigety and Karen Hanrahan said the US is prepared to meet ‘action for action’ as a result of positive development on the ground in Zimbabwe.
They said the sanctions policy is unlikely to change unless critical benchmarks are met including a peaceful referendum and the holding of credible and non violent elections.
Brigety said: “In the interim there are additional positive steps we are prepared to take with regard to the nature of our business engagement with Zimbabwe, with regard to the nature of our stepped-up health support, but our sanctions policy is unlikely to change unless there are credible and non violent elections later this year.”
The group said Zimbabwe had made progress since the formation of the unity government four years ago. However Hanrahan said the United States is concerned by emerging trends that put that progress at risk. She indicated elements in the police force who she said, continue to “demonstrate a clear partisan bias in arrests, detentions, and investigations – or the lack of such actions – depending on one’s political orientation.”
“Zimbabwe Defense Forces soldiers have been deployed on ‘administrative support duty’ to rural areas country-wide to pressure communities to support one political party. At the same time, police officials are being sent for political indoctrination at Shamva Battle Camp and police commissioners are visiting police camps around the country to exhort officers and their family members to chant pro-ZANU PF slogans,” Hanrahan added.
She said government leaders should rectify these disturbing trends and create more space for civil society, a free media and for political parties to be allowed to operate without fear and intimidation.
Brigety said: “We are also prepared to meet action for action if the destructive trends of those few elements – as noted above – are permitted to continue to deprive the Zimbabwean people of their rights and freedoms,”
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, said the delegation had reached their own ideas about what is happening in Zimbabwe after having high level meetings with government leaders, political parties, members of civil society organizations and business people, since they arrival in Zimbabwe on Wednesday.
Early this week the European Union said it removed targeted sanctions on 21 members of ZANU PF to reward Zimbabwe’s ‘progress’, as a result of the finalising of the constitution reform exercise. The EU said this was a significant step forward in implementing the Global Political Agreement.”