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United States – Zimbabwe relations
United States   Zimbabwe
Map indicating location of USA and Zimbabwe
     United States      Zimbabwe

United States – Zimbabwe relations are bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and the United States.



After the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of Rhodesia in November 1965, the United States recalled its Consul General from Salisbury (now Harare), closed the U.S. Information Service (USIS) library, and withdrew its U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and trade promotion officials. After 1965, the small remaining American consular staff continued to operate under authority of exequaturs issued by Queen Elizabeth II. Following declaration of a republic, the United States closed its Consulate General on March 17, 1970.

In 1971, despite Administration opposition, the U.S. Congress passed legislation permitting the United States to import strategic materials, such as chrome, from Rhodesia. The legislation, which took effect on January 1, 1972, was of little real economic benefit to the Rhodesian economy, and the United States continued to support the balance of the sanctions program. After the legislation was repealed in March 1977, the United States once again enforced all sanctions.

The United States supported the United Nations and the United Kingdom consistently in their efforts to influence Rhodesian authorities to accept the principles of majority rule. Beginning in 1976, the United States began to take a more active role in the search for a settlement in cooperation with the British. The Anglo-American proposals of late 1977, aimed at bringing a negotiated end to the dispute, lent the weight of the United States to the search for a peaceful settlement and were a counterpart to the Soviet-Cuban use of military power to increase their influence in southern Africa.

The United States supported British efforts to bring about and implement the settlement signed at Lancaster House on December 21, 1979, and extended official diplomatic recognition to the new government immediately after independence. A resident Embassy was established in Harare on Zimbabwe's Independence Day, April 18, 1980. The first U.S. Ambassador arrived and presented his credentials in June 1980. United States President Jimmy Carter met with Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert Mugabe in August 1980.[1] Author Geoff Hill criticized Carter for keeping "quiet as Mugabe nationalized the press, committed genocide against minority tribes and subverted [Zimbabwe's] constitution to make himself the sole source of authority."[2] Until the arrival in 1983 of a resident Ambassador in Washington, Zimbabwe's relations with the US were handled by its Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) in New York.

At the Zimbabwe conference on reconstruction and development (ZIMCORD) in March 1981, the United States pledged $225-million over a three-year period toward the government's goals of postwar reconstruction, distribution and development of land, and the development of skilled manpower. By the end of FY 1986, the United States had contributed $380-million, the majority in grants, with some loans and loan guarantees.

However, in July 1986, the US Government decided to discontinue future bilateral aid to Zimbabwe as a result of a continuing pattern of uncivil and undiplomatic statements and actions by the Government of Zimbabwe in the United Nations and elsewhere. Aid programs previously agreed upon were not affected by the decision; nor were regional development programs that might benefit Zimbabwe. Full programming was restored in 1988.

USAID assistance to Zimbabwe since 2002 has focused on family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention, democracy and governance programs, emergency food aid, and assistance to internally-displaced persons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began a direct assistance program in August 2000. CDC's program consists of prevention of HIV transmission, improved care for persons with HIV/AIDS, surveillance, monitoring and evaluation of the epidemic, and health-sector infrastructure support.

Since 2000, the United States has taken a leading role in condemning the Zimbabwean Government's increased assault on human rights and the rule of law, and has joined much of the global village in calling for the Government of Zimbabwe to embrace a peaceful democratic evolution. In 2002 and 2003, the United States imposed targeted measures on the Government of Zimbabwe, including financial and visa sanctions against selected individuals, a ban on transfers of defence items and services, and a suspension of non-humanitarian government-to-government assistance. Despite strained political relations, the United States continues as a leading provider of humanitarian assistance to the people of Zimbabwe, providing about $400-million in humanitarian assistance from 2002-2007, most of it food aid.

French President Jacques Chirac angered the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States when in February 2003 he invited President Mugabe to a Franco-African conference on Africa held in France. Mugabe said he felt "at home" in Paris and "President Chirac insisted that we attend. He held firm to his principles. We need leaders of his stature." Chirac later emphasized that he had not kissed Mugabe on his cheeks when the conference began.[3] The UK had previously tried to get the European Union to deny Mugabe the right to come to Europe, citing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.[4]

Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi summoned U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell on November 9, 2005, and expressed his "extreme displeasure" with comments Dell made a few days earlier in Mutare: Dell had said government corruption had led to food shortages. Mugabe replied that Dell could "go to hell."[5] Dell left Zimbabwe for Washington D.C., United States, on November 9 for consultations after meeting with Mumbengegwi.[6]

Mugabe visited Washington informally in September 1980, and on official working visits in September 1983, July 1991 and 1995, meeting with Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton respectively. He has also led a Zimbabwean delegation to the UN on several occasions, most recently in 2006. Vice-President Bush visited Harare in November 1982 on a trip to several African countries.

Prime Minister Tsvangirayi Meets President Obama 06/12/2009 at WhiteHouse

The following is the official transcript between the historical meeting between Prime Minister Tsvangirayi and Barack Obama, on Friday 12TH. June 2009.[7].

Oval Office 4:04 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I want to welcome Prime Minister Tsvangirai to the Oval Office. He and his delegation have been meeting with my team throughout the day. I obviously have extraordinary admiration for the courage and the tenacity that the Prime Minister has shown in navigating through some very difficult political times in Zimbabwe.There was a time when Zimbabwe was the bread basket of Africa and continues to have enormous potential. It has gone through a very dark and difficult period politically. The President -- President Mugabe -- I think I've made my views clear, has not acted oftentimes in the best interest of the Zimbabwean people and has been resistant to the kinds of democratic changes that need to take place.

We now have a power-sharing agreement that shows promise, and we want to do everything we can to encourage the kinds of improvement not only on human rights and rule of law, freedom of the press and democracy that is so necessary, but also on the economic front. The people of Zimbabwe need very concrete things -- schools that are reopened, a health care delivery system that can deal with issues like cholera or HIV/AIDS, an agricultural system that is able to feed its people. And on all these fronts, I think the Prime Minister is committed to significant concrete improvement in the day-to-day lives of the people of Zimbabwe.I congratulate him -- they've been able to bring inflation under control after hyperinflation that was really tearing at the fabric of the economy. We're starting to see slowly some improvements in capacity -- industrial capacity there. So, overall, in a very difficult circumstance, we've seen progress from the Prime Minister. We are grateful to him. We want to encourage him to continue to make progress. The United States is a friend to the people of Zimbabwe. I've committed $73 million in assistance to Zimbabwe. It will not be going to the government directly because we continue to be concerned about consolidating democracy, human rights, and rule of law, but it will be going directly to the people in Zimbabwe and I think can be of assistance to the Prime Minister in his efforts. He's going to continue to provide us with direction in ways that he thinks we can be helpful. And I'm grateful to him for his leadership, for his courage, and I'm looking forward to being a partner with him in the years to come. Mr. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER TSVANGIRAI: Thank you.Thank you very much, Mr. President.I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for receiving us. I'm sure that -- I want to take the opportunity of congratulating you, although belatedly, for being elected the President. And I think it's a profound experience for some of us who are committed to change, and hopefully that -- the Prime Minister, who is committed to change, and the President, who is committed to change, find common convergence in position. I've been explaining to the President that Zimbabwe is coming out of a political conflict and economic collapse or decay, and that the new political dispensation here drafted is an attempt to arrest this decay, but also mindful of the fact that it is a journey. This is a transitional arrangement. We want to institute those reforms that will ensure that in 18 months' time the people of Zimbabwe will be given an opportunity to live their own lives.Yes, there has been a lot of progress made by the transitional government, but there are also problems. It is the problems of implementation, and I do recognize that even by the standard of our own benchmarks, there are gaps that still exist and that we will strive. And I want to show my -- to express my commitment that we will strive to implement those benchmarks, not because they are for the international community but because for ourselves it gives people of Zimbabwe freedom and opportunity to grow. I want to say, lastly, I want to thank you for that demonstrable leadership in assisting the people of Zimbabwe and I want to take this opportunity to thank the humanitarian support that the West -- we have experienced over the years and the continued expression of support. And of course we continue to engage in ensuring that that support consolidates the process towards democratic change, (inaudible) strengthens (inaudible) in defense of the status quo. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much.Thank you,everybody.Have a great weekend. END

4:10 P.M. EDT

After Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe's rival and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe under a power-sharing agreement, the Barack Obama administration extended its congratulations to Tsvangirai, but said that the U.S. would wait for evidence of Mugabe's cooperation with the MDC before it would consider lifting its sanctions.[8] In early March 2009, Obama proclaimed that US sanctions would be protracted provisionally for another year, because Zimbabwe's political crisis as yet unresolved.[9] He explained in a statement to Congress,

"The crisis constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe's democratic processes or institutions has not been resolved.

These actions and policies pose a continuing, unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.

For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue this national emergency and to maintain in force the sanctions to respond to this threat.[10]

Principal U.S. Officials

  • Ambassador--James D. McGee
  • Deputy Chief of Mission—Katherine Dhanani
  • USAID Mission Director—Karen Freeman
  • Political/Economic Chief—Glenn Warren
  • Public Affairs Officer—Paul Engelstad
  • Defense Attaché—LTC Ryan McMullen

Diplomatic missions

  • U.S. Embassy (Chancery), Harare
  • U.S. Agency for International Development, Harare

See also

US and UK diplomats detained in Zimbabwe



  1. ^ Page 380 Notable U.S. Ambassadors Since 1775: A Biographical Dictionary
  2. ^ Page 8 What Happens After Mugabe?
  3. ^ Page 33 Hating America: The New World Sport
  4. ^ Page 146 Allies: Why the West Had to Remove Saddam
  5. ^ Zimbabwe voices anger at US envoy BBC News
  6. ^ Ambassador leaves Zimbabwe Zwnews
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Obama congratulates Tsvangirai". February 13, 2009.  
  9. ^ AFP 2009.
  10. ^ Quoted in AFP 2009.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).



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