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US alive to Zim situation ahead of 2023 elections … as Biden nominates security expert as next envoy

THE political-military situation in Zimbabwe could have influenced United States President Joe Biden to nominate a security expert as the next envoy to Harare with reports indicating the world superpower is casting its eyes on the southern African country’s next general election, political analysts say.

The White House last week announced that Biden had nominated Pamela Tremont , a security, political and military expert, as nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Zimbabwe.

The move, according to political analysts, could be an indication that Biden and US authorities want to put pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, which has a strong military inclination.

Tremont is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counsellor, and is currently assigned as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.

She also holds additional responsibility of serving as the interim Chargé d’Affaires for 18 months.

According to a statement released by the White House last week, Tremont was assigned first as Assistance Coordinator and then as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine. Prior to that, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Among her other roles, Tremont has been Deputy Director for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) policy in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department, the Political/Economic Counsellor at the US embassy in Lusaka, Zambia, and a Political-Military Officer in the US embassy in London, United Kingdom.

Tremont also served as Political Military Officer at the US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, as a Desk Officer for South Africa in the Bureau of African Affairs, and as a Watch Officer in the State Department’s Operations Centre.

Tremont holds a Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Baylor University as well as a Master’s in National Security Resource Strategy from the National Defence University.

In an interview this week, South African-based academic Ricky Makonza said the political crisis in Zimbabwe has a security dimension and the US government has realised that important fact.

“Biden would, therefore, want someone who is going to break down the analysis of this complex political-military problem as the country moves towards the 2023 elections,” he said.

“Tremont has a background that could give the Americans what they want. Having that understanding will assist Washington on how to relate to Harare.”

Another political analyst Methuseli Moyo concurred, adding that Tremont’s profile has a bearing on the mission of the same.

“In this case, the US believes her profile is the right one for the job. Therefore, this is an indication that the US reckons Zimbabwe is a militarised state,” he said.

“Read that with the impending 2023 elections, and the alleged role and influence of the Zimbabwe military in the politics of the state, clearly the US is stationing an envoy who will read the situation and advise accordingly.”

Effie Ncube, a political commentator, said the US wanted someone with the background to handle a complex situation like Zimbabwe.

“It does not mean the US is looking at attacking Zimbabwe, but it is looking for a seasoned diplomat who is going to push Zimbabwe towards respecting its constitution, the rule of law and the rights of Zimbabwean citizens,” he said.

“So there is no fundamental departure from the norm but all we are seeing is America doing what it has always done in different situations and by nominating this individual President Biden is sewing or demonstrating that he is serious about assisting Zimbabwe to achieve the democracy that it is yelling for.”

Ncube said Tremont had the necessary experience and commitment to democratic values and principles adding that she would assist in forming states structured for democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

In the US, the president nominates candidates for approval in the Senate.

So far Biden has nominated 11 ambassadors and only one has been confirmed by the Senate — his envoy to the United Nations in New York, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a retired career diplomat who took office in February.

Tremont’s nomination coincides with the US government triggering anxious moments in Harare after agreeing with the Zambian government to establish a military office in Lusaka and that the US has always had plans to establish military bases in Southern Africa amid fears that these would be targeted at Zimbabwe.

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