THE US government will this year begin the construction of a new Embassy compound in Harare valued at $199 million.
This comes after the Department of State Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) awarded a tender to B.L. Harbert, International of Birmingham, Alabama for the construction work.
The new Embassy will be located on a 16.5-acre site in the Bluff Hill area. The complex will include an office building and associated support facilities.
US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, revealed this information in Harare recently.
He told delegates at an embassy function that the decision was a sign of US government’s commitment to improve relations between the two countries.
“We continue to believe in the promise of our ideals. And, we continue to believe that we can build a future that honors those ideals. That same optimism guides our approach to Zimbabwe,” said Wharton.
“We continue to believe in the future of US–Zimbabwe relations, so we are embarking on a multi-million dollar project to build a new embassy compound, a project that will create jobs and skills, boost Harare’s economy, and serve as a clear expression of our commitment to Zimbabwe.”
The US-Zimbabwe relationship has been strained for years, and President Robert Mugabe often turns the rhetoric up against what he says are “imperialists”.
Earlier this year, the US extended sanctions targeted at “certain members of the Zimbabwean government and other persons” whose actions and policies “undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes and institutions.”
US President Barack Obama invoked an executive order issued by predecessor George Bush in 2003 that declared a national emergency in relation to Zimbabwe for the “unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States” posed by the targeted Zimbabweans.
In addition, sequential elections tainted by political violence kept the relationship bitter.
Although other Zanu PF allies have been dropped from the targeted measures, the US has maintained sanctions on Mugabe.
Wharton said his country will keep encouraging Harare to uphold human rights.
Despite sour relations, the US has continued to support Zimbabwe with aid.
In the last five years, over 140 000 small-holder farmers were assisted resulting in their local and export sales reaching $210 million. A further $400 million has been availed to strengthen public health and emergency food assistance in the last three years.