TWO senior United States (U.S.) officials are set to visit Zimbabwe next week to consult with the government, the opposition and civil society groups on issues including human rights, democracy and governance.
A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe on Thursday said Shannon Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs and Steven Feldstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human rights and Labour will visit Harare from May 12 to 16.
“The visit will enable the officials to hear first-hand from representatives of government, representatives of opposition political parties and civil society organizations about issues including human rights, democracy and governance since the adoption of the Zimbabwe’s constitution in May 2013,” said the statement.
Despite having maintained economic sanctions on Zimbabwe for over a decade, the U.S. remains one of the major providers of humanitarian aid to the country covering areas such as health and food security.
Then president George W. Bush imposed the sanctions through the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) in 2001.
Current US president Barack Obama extended the sanctions in March this year saying the Harare administration remained a threat to American foreign policy interests.
“The threat constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic process or institutions has not been resolved,” said Obama.
“These actions and policies continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the US. For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue this national emergency and to maintain in force the sanctions to respond to this threat.”