ZIMBABWE should respect its constitution which guarantees freedoms of speech and association as well as the right to non-violent protest while ensuring the rule of law is upheld, the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Harry Thomas Jnr says.
By Elias Mambo
In a wide ranging interview, Thomas said leaders have a duty to abide by the constitution.
“Zimbabwe has a constitution which guarantees among many other rights, freedom of speech, freedom of association, the right to non-violent demonstration and these should be respected,” he said.
To attract investors and stimulate economic development, good governance is a prerequisite.
“There is need to improve in governance issues, ease of doing business and policies that attract investors,” he said.
Thomas rubbished allegations that the US was sponsoring protests in Zimbabwe solely because he posted pictures on Twitter showing him in the company of leaders of social movement groups such as Stern Zvorwadza and Patson Dzamara.
“The United States supports freedom of expression and the peaceful manifestation of dissenting points of view — all of which are rights guaranteed in Zimbabwe’s constitution. The organisers of recent demonstrations have not requested US funding to co-ordinate demonstrations and we have not offered it,” he said.
“We share 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. To realise these goals, we strongly believe that it is important to engage with government and non-governmental entities alike.”
Since July, Zimbabwe has been rocked by protests against President Robert Mugabe’s economic policies.
However, the ruling Zanu PF has accused western embassies of sponsoring the demonstrations.
Commenting on Zimbabwe’s efforts to seek fresh funding from international financial institutions, Thomas said the US supports every country’s efforts to repay its debts, and urges the government of Zimbabwe to review fiscal and economic policies to put Zimbabwe on a sustainable path to economic growth.
- See full interview in the next edition.