THE military must return to the barracks while Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has a “window of opportunity to demonstrate commitment to a democratic, just, healthy and prosperous Zimbabwe”, a strategic US government official has said.
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Stephanie Sullivan was presenting his paper titled “The Future of Zimbabwe” to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs Tuesday.
Sullivan said “the U.S. engagement with the newly-inaugurated Mnangagwa and his administration must be based on demonstrated behavior, not rhetorical intentions”.
“Our policy of re-engagement will focus on constitutional democracy, free and fair elections, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and an improved trade and investment climate, among other issues.
“The country has a strong civil society and experienced political opposition, and their voices must count in charting a path forward,” added Sullivan. She went on,
“We must judge the new administration on its current and future actions. Along the way, there will be many actions that we will need to assess, as we look to reengage. We will need to see free and fair elections. The military needs to return to its barracks and state institutions should be demilitarized.”
Sullivan further said “perpetrators of abuses against civilians should be held accountable regardless of party affiliation”. In a hard hitting statement, Sullivan added that “government must engage in hard economic reforms, including addressing budget deficits, reforming the Indigenization Act, and reducing corruption. We will want to see improved protection of fundamental freedoms, a freer media, and a truth and reconciliation process. The people of Zimbabwe deserve these reforms, and many more.
We welcome President Mnangagwa’s statement of intent to carry out economic reforms during his inauguration speech, and we are assessing the budget that was released last week. We believe critical political reforms deserve equal attention and cannot wait. In particular, elections must be free, fair, credible, and inclusive allowing Zimbabweans to choose their own leaders. Everyone in Zimbabwe should enjoy the rights to peaceful assembly without undue interference and to voice their opinions—and their vote—without fear.”
“If President Mnangagwa wants improved diplomatic relations and access to international assistance and cooperation, particularly from the United States, it is our position that his government must first implement reforms,” said Sullivan.
This comes as many Zimbabweans feel the army should quit the streets following a spate of incidents which saw many civilans assaulted by the soldiers.