Felex Share Harare Bureau
THE United States’ new ambassador to Zimbabwe, Harry Thomas (Jnr), yesterday had difficulties explaining why his country has maintained a discredited sanctions regime on Zimbabwe, mumbling inaudibly each time he tried to justify the embargo. Thomas, an African American diplomat who once served at the US Embassy in Harare, dithered when journalists took him to task over the debilitating sanctions immediately after presenting his credentials to President Robert Mugabe.
After being tongue-tied for some time, the envoy resorted to the usual mantra of alleged unfair elections and violations of human rights peddled by the Western media.
“Our sanctions are in place because aaah aaah, certain … how shall we say? The … There are sanctions against individuals and corporations and we discussed this with President Mugabe as our Senators did last week when he met them. We were not certain about elections that were held before but what we’re talking now is politics and governance. We’ve to look at economic management as well as governance, which includes human rights. Am I right or wrong?”
Three other ambassadors from Bulgaria, Georgia and Austria also presented their credentials to President Mugabe.
Relations between Harare and Washington turned sour at the turn of the millennium after the US government imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in retaliation for a bilateral tiff between Zimbabwe and Britain over the land reform programme.
The US came up with a law, the Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act to back the illegal sanctions outside the purview of the UN system.
Thomas, who takes over from Bruce Wharton, said relations between the US and Zimbabwe were “people to people” with the former providing developmental assistance and humanitarian aid.