U.S. rooting for Zimbabwe to succeed: Ambassador Harrington

Ambassador Harrington
Ambassador Matthew Harrington

Harare, June 8, 2018: Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of African Affairs Matthew T. Harrington is in Zimbabwe on a three-day tour that will enable him to meeting government and nongovernmental players as Zimbabwe prepares for elections July 30. He told the media that the  United States is interested in a better relationship with Zimbabwe and the scheduled election will be one important  benchmark among other reforms- economic, human rights, and good governance. Below are his prepared notes presented during a media briefing in Harare on Thursday.

  1. Good morning – Delighted to be in Harare at what I think is a very important moment in Zimbabwe history.
  2. Also, on personal note, pleased to be back almost 15 years exactly after completing a 3- year diplomatic assignment at the U. S. Embassy here, an assignment I enjoyed very much.
  3. I am now in the State Department in Washington in a role that gives me responsibility for southern Africa. This is my fist trip in that role, and I thought it was important to include Harare.
  4. I am in Harare for two principal reasons. First, I am here to listen and to learn.  A lot has happened in Zimbabwe since November 2017, and there is no substitute for hearing the perspectives of key people on the ground.  I look forward to seeing senior members of government today, and also to hearing the perspectives of a wide range of others , including the business community, opposition leaders, civil society members, and members of the diplomatic corps.
  5. So I am here to listen and to learn. The second reason I am here is to make clear that the United States is interested in a better relationship with Zimbabwe, and to share our perspectives on how that can best be achieved.
  6. It is our view that Zimbabwe now has an opportunity to set itself on a very different path politically and economically. For far too long, political and economic space has been very constrained.  Zimbabweans have not in the past, been free to express their views or cast their ballots without fear or intimidation.  And the economic environment has frightened away many potential foreign investors, with predictable results for the economy.
  7. The election in July will be one important benchmark of whether the political environment of the past is changing for the better.
  8. We welcome President Mnangagwa’s public commitment to ensure the election is free and fair and to invite international observers. These are important steps.
  9. We will also be watching for other reforms- economic, human rights, and good governance. Because credibility of elections is only one measure of change.
  10. As it prepares for the election on July 30, the government can send a powerful message that it is committed to building public trust by :
  • Ensuring that ZEC is free from political interference and partisanship
  • That all political parties are able to campaign freely and have equitable access to state media
  • That security force play members play no role in administering the election or intimidating voters;
  • And that there will be full transparency around the voters roll
  1. In conclusion, the election on July 30 will be an early gage of the government’s commitment to political and economic reforms that not only will ensure a better relationship with us and others in the international community, but could also help Zimbabwe begin to build a stronger economy and strengthen democratic institutions and processes that are better able to meet the needs of its citizens. We are rooting for Zimbabwe to succeed.- ZimPAS © Harare, June 8, 2018