Fourth of July Remarks

The Government of Zimbabwe representative, Your Excellency, the Deputy Foreign Minister, Honorable Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court,  The Diplomatic Corps, Members of Parliament, and Permanent Secretaries of the Government of Zimbabwe, Your Worships, the Mayors of Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Kwekwe, Masvingo, and Ruwa, Ladies and gentlemen,

Good Afternoon! Masikati! Litshonile (Lee-choo-nee N-jar-nee)!, Mar-s-wear-ra Se-i) and thank you all for joining us today to commemorate this 240th anniversary of the United States’ Declaration of Independence.

Weren’t Hope and her band great? Hope come on out and take a bow.

Please join me in wishing a joyous Eid Mubarak to our brothers and sisters celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Each year, our Fourth of July commemorations provide the American people with the opportunity to consider our ongoing experiment in self-rule.  In 1776, when Thomas Jefferson brilliantly penned the words of the Declaration of Independence, the idea that common citizens have the right to rule themselves was a radical one.  Although that idea today is broadly accepted, it is the implementation of this idea that remains hard.  The United States remains a work in progress, but our commitment to building a better society is strong.

The United States and Zimbabwe were founded on dissent.

Indeed many of us are here today because of the dissents of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others in the civil rights movement and Zimbabweans are here today because of the courage demonstrated by your freedom fighters and the families and friends who provided support.

Thus, the United States supports freedom of expression in Zimbabwe and the peaceful manifestation of dissenting points of view.

We Americans have been reminded again of the work that we must still do to overcome violence, terror, discrimination, and hatred. The inexcusable terror of murdering people in Orlando because of their beliefs is unfathomable.  Terrorists also victimized our friends and allies in Bangladesh, Iraq and Turkey and tried to kill innocents in Saudi Arabia. We will not let them win because, as Elie Wiesel — one of the great moral voices of our time — said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  Please join me in remembering the victims and the injured survivors of these terrible incidents and affirm that we, the living – Americans and others in the global community – are committed to stand against these acts of violence and against all acts of terror inflamed by discrimination and hate.    This 240th anniversary of the United States also takes place against the backdrop of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.  In early November, Americans will have the opportunity to express their will through the casting of ballots and their selection of new leadership.  I know that many of you in Zimbabwe — along with others around the world — are watching the U.S. election campaign.  Indeed, nary a day goes by when we are not asked who will win.  We do not know but what we do know is that it will be free, fair, and violence-free and that winners will celebrate and losers will concede graciously — and plan for the next election, just as Zimbabweans are working toward free, fair and violence-free elections in 2018.

It is this same sense of freedom and fairness that guides our engagement across a range of activities in Zimbabwe.  Whether it is support from the American people in the form of assistance that enables small-holder farmers to improve their economic situation and food security; or programs that address the humanitarian and developmental needs of hunger and health in at-risk populations; or our efforts to promote trade and investment opportunities for local businesses and to share knowledge and enhanced opportunities for young entrepreneurs; our unequivocal encouragement of gender equality or in our funding of programs that provide information and analysis to policy-makers that strengthens parliamentary functions; or our efforts to expand Zimbabwean’s intellectual power and potential by linking students to scholarships within American colleges and universities, including the 60 Mandela Fellows currently in America – – we believe in the capacity of the Zimbabwean people to build a better future and we are committed to do what we can in partnership with the people of Zimbabwe to achieve this shared ideal.

Indeed, we have joined the international community in answering the Government of Zimbabwe’s call for global assistance to help mitigate the effects of the drought. Mr. Minister, I can assure you today that we have and will continue to provide food to those most in need and that our contributions will increase in the coming months.

We wish to thank you, the people of Zimbabwe, for your great gift to us of  diverse, talented, dedicated and educated people who now help lead America – Danai Gurira on Broadway,  James Manica and Stanley Fischer in the financial markets, but the best examples are Doctors Allen Chuira and Nozipo Maraire or Nigel and Chido Munyati, who were born here, educated and excelled in America and made the decision to return home as so many among you have to build a future Zimbabwe that grants its citizens “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

We, too, share a belief in Zimbabwe’s future that is well underway in our $190-million dollar  new embassy campus, a project that has already created 700 local jobs, and one that will transfer technical skills, boost Harare’s economy, and serve as the clearest visible expression of our commitment to Zimbabwe and its people.

I share the view of most Americans as we look to our future with optimism.  We believe in the promise of our ideals and in the prospect of building a future that honors the best within us in keeping with our country’s ideals.  We proudly represent America without regard to race, gender or sexual orientation.

Please join me in thanking our wonderful team who worked so hard to put this day together, say farewell to our Minister Robert Scott, our Political Economic Counselor Rachel Meyers, and our Office Management Specialist Gwendolyn Bedient and their families.

Maita basa!

I ask that you help me wish the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Happy Birthday.

No matter how far we go in life, we owe a debt of gratitude to those who push us and support us and for me, that person is my life partner and wife, Mithi.

And so, I would ask you to raise your glasses and join me now in a toast:

The United States of America and the Republic of Zimbabwe: and to our mutual commitment to the promise of our shared ideals for a brighter future for Americans and Zimbabweans.

Thank you.