Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. statement following the Presentation of Credentials to President R.G. Mugabe
I am happy to return to Zimbabwe, a country blessed with great natural resources and a friendly people. I intend to continue the important work of building strong and respectful relations between our two great countries.
I had a good meeting with President Mugabe, in which I delivered greetings from President Obama. I expressed my government’s sincere desire to find common ground that will enhance our bilateral relationship.
My meeting with President Mugabe follows closely on the meeting that he had a week ago with a delegation of members from the U.S. Congress, led by Senator Jeff Flake. Both meetings underscore an important fact: the enduring interest and commitment of the United States to the people of Zimbabwe have not changed.
We stand by the commitments that we made to the people of Zimbabwe at independence in 1980; to work together to promote democratic institutions, equitable economic growth, public health, and food security. The United States shares the desires of the people of Zimbabwe, who want to see a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Zimbabwe that provides for its people and contributes to regional stability. To realize these goals, we strongly believe that it is important to engage with government and non-governmental entities alike to promote our shared values and to work together in areas of common concern. We view this ongoing dialogue as part of building the bilateral relationship.
I pledged to President Mugabe our continued support to the people of Zimbabwe and to their efforts to build a more just, prosperous and healthy society. The Government of the United States and the Government of Zimbabwe share the desire for a better future for the people of this great nation. Whenever we may differ on the best means of achieving these goals, I will seek to engage in a dialogue that is respectful and that seeks to uphold the universal values and rights that Zimbabweans fought so hard to gain 36 years ago.
In addition to my government’s primary policy interests of supporting strong democratic institutions, sustainable economic growth, regional security, and expanding opportunities for people and communities, we are mindful of the immediate challenges before us: responding to the 2015–2016 El Niño event, which experts say is one of the strongest on record. Zimbabwe is among the worst affected countries. During the recent African Union Summit in Ethiopia, our Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield and USAID Administrator Gayle Smith pledged to continue providing humanitarian assistance to ensure food security in most parts of the continent. Zimbabwe will not be an exception and this will be my priority in the early stages of my tenure here in Zimbabwe.
My Embassy will continue to work to promote business linkages, encourage American investors to look closely at Zimbabwe’s educated labor force and long-term growth potential. The New Embassy Campus is another tangible expression of the United States’ commitment to our relationship with Zimbabwe. The work that has begun on the construction of our New Embassy Campus is projected to create more than 850 job opportunities for local Zimbabwean workers and inject more than $30 million dollars into the local economy.
We plan to continue our commitment to support the country’s health systems and, in particular, to support Zimbabwe’s well documented success in mitigating the impact of HIV and AIDS. I look forward to working with my Embassy team to create opportunities for both Zimbabweans and Americans to enjoy good health, peace and the benefits of our strong people-to-people connections.
But most importantly, I hope to have the opportunity to hear from Zimbabweans from all walks of life. I look forward to learning about the aspirations of the Zimbabwean people and understanding the ways in which the United States can continue to be a good partner and friend.