Harare, April 12, 2017: Ahead of Zimbabwe’s independence on April 18th, Ambassador Harry Thomas Jnr will on Thursday April 13th (4 pm Zimbabwe time) participate in a panel discussion on the future of Zimbabwe. The discussion is organized by VOA Africa Division and will be moderated by veteran journalist Blessing Zulu.
Ambassador Thomas Jr. started his assignment in Zimbabwe on February 25th 2016 after presenting his credentials to President Robert Mugabe. His assignment to Zimbabwe is his second as a diplomat since the southern African country attained its independence in 1980.
He joined the Foreign Service in 1984, and has served as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines from 2010 to 2013 and to Bangladesh from 2003 to 2005. He also served in the White House as the Director for South Asia at the National Security Council from 2001 to 2002. His other postings include: New Delhi, India; Kaduna, Nigeria; and Lima, Peru. A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and Columbia University, Ambassador Thomas Jr. also served at Arizona State University as the State Department’s Diplomat-in-Residence for the Southwest from 2013 to 2015.
After meeting President Mugabe, the top American diplomat pledged “to continue the important work of building strong and respectful relations between” the two countries.
“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,” he said at the time. “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.”
Ambassador Thomas’ immediate assignment has included overseeing U.S. government response to the 2015–2016 El Niño induced droughts and the construction of the New Embassy Campus in Bluffhill Harare. The latter has created more than 850 job opportunities for local Zimbabwean workers and injected more than $30 million dollars into the local economy each year since construction work began. On the humanitarian front, the United States has ensured that humanitarian assistance reaches two million Zimbabweans during the El Niño-induced drought that led to widespread crop failure and left 4.1 million rural Zimbabweans food insecure.
During the VOA organized discussion, Ambassador Thomas Jnr. will be joined by Dr. Chipo Dendere, Assistant Professor, Gettysburg College; Dr. Tawuya Katso, Developmental and Social Consultant; and Dr. Rhoderick Machekano, Zimbabwe Diaspora Network North America (ZDNNA) while Amanda Bennett, VOA Director will give the opening remarks.
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