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US senator writes off Zimbabwe elections

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: Chairman James Risch speaks to Brian Hook State department Special Representative for Iran as he testifies during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Holds Hearing On US-Iran Policy on October 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
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A United States senator who is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee has already written off Zimbabwe’s pending elections saying he sees “the Zimbabwean regime taking the country down a dark and familiar path of electoral violence, repression, and impunity”.

Senator James Risch said this in his remarks on the nomination of Pamela Tremont as the next United States ambassador to Zimbabwe.

His remarks were made the very day President Joe Biden extended US sanctions on Zimbabwe by a year because President Emmerson Mnangagwa had not made the necessary political and economic reforms that would warrant terminating the sanctions.

Risch said: “On to the nomination of US ambassador to Zimbabwe – I am appalled by the continued abuses of power, excessive corruption, and horrific human rights record by the country’s leadership. These not only inhibit the US-Zimbabwe relationship, but also deprive the region of benefitting from a prosperous Zimbabwe.

“With elections expected this summer, we already see the Zimbabwean regime taking the country down a dark and familiar path of electoral violence, repression, and impunity.

“Our ambassador must hold firm in support for the people of Zimbabwe, while committing to uphold U.S. values on human rights and democracy in engaging the Zimbabwean government. I look forward to hearing how Ms. Tremont plans to do this.”

Tremont said that if confirmed, she will promote economic reform, rule of law, transparency, and women’s empowerment to unleash Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and offer opportunities for US business.

“Together we can address poverty and food insecurity in Zimbabwe and the region,” she said.

Zimbabwe is already food secure according to the secretary for Lands and Agriculture John Bhasera and it is now working on increasing productivity.

Tremont added: “My highest priority will be the safety and security of American citizens and the very talented Embassy staff, including our local staff who have performed admirably under pressure stemming from their employment with us.

“My leadership touchstone has always been that diverse teams can do anything when

properly resourced in a secure and respectful environment, and I have always confronted harassment and discrimination head-on.

“If confirmed, I will carefully steward US resources, hold my team to a high standard, protect them at all costs, and empower them to work with partners in Zimbabwe who share our vision of peaceful, democratic nations working together to overcome global challenges.”

The United States has been accused of trying to influence Zimbabwe’s coming elections and is reportedly dangling US$37 million for this.

One study by the Anglo-American Corporation funded Brenthurst Foundation of South Africa has said Citizens Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa will win the elections if they are free and fair.

United States private intelligence firm, Stratfor, which has long seen Mnangagwa as the force behind the throne even during President Riobert Mugabe era, said Mnangagwa will win the elections.

Below is Tremont’s full testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 1 March.