Speaking to the Daily News On Sunday in an exclusive interview this week, USA ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said Washington remained ready to assist Zimbabwe – as long as Mnangagwa and the government fulfilled the promises that were made after the dramatic fall from power of the late former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017.
This comes as Mnangagwa himself has said that he is keen to mend Zimbabwe’s frosty relations of the past two decades with western countries and the USA.
Nichols said Washington wanted to see a prosperous Zimbabwe, contrary to the views held by some Zanu-PF supporters.
“The United States shares 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 it is important that government and non-governmental entities alike promote our shared values and work in areas of common concern.
“Whenever we may differ on the best means of achieving these goals, we will seek to engage in a dialogue that is respectful and that seeks to uphold the universal values and rights that Zimbabweans fought so hard to gain 40 years ago,” Nichols told the Daily News On Sunday.
However, he also said the USA government was keen to see Mnangagwa fulfilling the promises he made when he replaced Mugabe.
“This government campaigned on a platform of reform. Zimbabwe’s constitution enshrines many fundamental freedoms.
“The government of Zimbabwe should enact and implement its promised political and economic reforms.
“In 2018, the government committed to implementing the recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission,” Nichols further told the Daily News On Sunday.
“As we have stated before, our engagement will depend on the government’s implementation of those reforms, consistent with international standards.
“The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (ZDERA) of 2018 outlines the steps Zimbabwe needs to take to gain the support of the United States government for new lending through international financial institutions.
“The key conditions the United States require Zimbabwe to satisfy remain the same – the restoration of the rule of law, free and fair elections, equitable, legal and transparent land reform … military and national police subordinate to a civilian-led government.
“If Zimbabwe were to fully align its laws to the 2013 Constitution and follow through on President Mnangagwa’s own promises of reform, it would meet these requirements,” Nichols further told the Daily News On Sunday.
“In his meetings with the president (Mnangagwa) and Foreign Affairs minister (Sibusiso Moyo), assistant secretary Tibor Nagy emphasised the importance of implementing promised economic and political reforms to restore Zimbabwe’s international reputation, rebuild the economy and give voice to all Zimbabweans.
“Both President Mnangagwa and Minister Moyo have indicated Zimbabwe’s commitment to these reforms, including holding security forces accountable for violent incidents in 2018 and 2019.
“The Global Compensation Deed Agreement represents an important step forward in resolving Zimbabwe’s land tenure and agriculture problems. However, we will need to see its implementation before we can evaluate it fully,” Nichols added.
This comes as Mnangagwa and his administration have been accused of blowing away the international goodwill which followed the fall of Mugabe from power in November 2017, via a stunning and widely-supported military coup.
Despite making a number of promises, including carrying out broad-based economic and political reforms, Mnangagwa stands accused of failing to fulfil most of them.
However, his government has been credited with expunging some repressive laws from the statute books that were routinely used by Mugabe’s regime to punish political opponents and independent media like the Daily News.
Among the laws that have been scrapped are the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).
In addition, Mnangagawa has been praised for trying to end years of chaos in the agricultural sector by restoring farming rights that were taken away during Mugabe’s ruinous reign.
In this regard, the government recently signed a US$3,5 billion Global Compensation Agreement with white former commercial farmers, while also announcing that all farmers who lost their land protected by Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) would either be compensated or have their land titles restored.
However, Nichols told the Daily News On Sunday that while this was encouraging, Mnangagwa needed to fulfil his promises and put Zimbabwe back on the path to success – as the country had “everything needed to succeed”.
“Zimbabwe has tremendous economic potential. First, it has well educated people. There are so many impressive Zimbabweans in this country, and when you add the Diaspora around the world, you see Zimbabweans at the best universities and at the top of businesses around the world.
“That’s an enormous resource others don’t have. Second, the extractive industries and mineral resources here are vast. The country also has world-class tourist attractions like Victoria Falls and Great Zimbabwe.
“This country was once an agricultural powerhouse, saving southern Africa from a tremendous drought 21 years ago. It can do so again, with the right policies,” Nichols further told the Daily News On Sunday.
“We will continue to press the Government of Zimbabwe to implement the necessary political and economic reforms to provide Zimbabwean citizens with the prosperity, security and well-being they deserve.
“However, the United States cannot build Zimbabwe, only Zimbabweans can do that. United States support will be available where appropriate, when Zimbabwean leaders request it,” Nichols added.
Washington has previously affirmed that it is ready to assist Zimbabwe if authorities implement sweeping reforms.
In the run-up to the historic 2018 national elections, Washington signalled its intent to end nearly two decades of frosty relations between the US and Zimbabwe, when it sent a powerful delegation to Harare to engage with Mnangagwa.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the West have been icy since the country embarked on chaotic and widely-criticised land reforms, which saw many commercial farmers losing their land at the height of Mugabe’s ruinous rule.
The move proved disastrous for the country and its long-suffering citizens, as this resulted in Zimbabwe’s isolation from the rest of the international community, while also destroying the critical agricultural sector.
It also saw Zimbabwe’s credit lines and trade facilities being blocked following the imposition of sanctions on the country – amid widespread criticism of Harare’s human rights record.
This subsequently resulted in Zimbabwe hitting rock bottom economically a decade ago, which left most citizens dirt poor and living on less than a dollar a day – with many companies closing down and investors pulling out.