By Nkosana Dlamini
The US government has affirmed its “steadfast” friendship with “the people of Zimbabwe” despite evident lack of a thaw in sour relations between Washington and Harare.
In a press briefing Tuesday, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the continued channelling of billions worth of aid to its troubled former ally was testimony the superpower had not surrendered its affection for Zimbabweans.
“Well, we have made very clear that we are a steadfast friend of the people of Zimbabwe. Over the years, we provided more than $3.5 billion in assistance.
“That sum is the amount we provided since Zimbabwe achieved its independence in 1980,” he said.
Price was responding to a question on the US’s “contentious relationship with Zimbabwe”.
“…In between, things going back and forth between the Zimbabwean Government spokesperson, President Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, and the U.S. embassy.
“What are you doing to improve your engagement with Zimbabwe and to see that getting better?”
The questioner said the erstwhile Donald Trump administration had singled out Zimbabwe, alongside Iran and China as adversaries to the superpower.
“I know national security officials in the White House had done so.
“We’ve had a whole string in the last decade of these contentious relationships.”
The questioner asked what the US was doing on “strengthening democracy specifically to Zimbabwe”.
In his response, Price said, “We share the Zimbabwean people’s aspirations for a country that offers democracy, justice, human rights, prosperity for all, supporting human rights, supporting these values in Africa and around the world.
“It is absolutely a priority for us and we’ll continue to work on ways to support those aspirations of the Zimbabwean people.”
Zimbabwe, then under the now late President Robert Mugabe, fell out with the US at the turn of the century when the superpower slapped the country with a slew of restrictive measures under its controversial Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA).
The US was ostensibly responding to alleged rights abuses, poll fraud, unbridled high-level corruption and the undermining of democracy by the Harare regime.
However, the Zanu PF led administration is up in arms with Washington for allegedly storming what it maintains was a bilateral quarrel with former colonial master Britain it claims did not take kindly, Zimbabwe’s decision to seize vast tracts of arable land which were in the hands of mostly British descendant landowners.