US deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of African Affairs Robert Scott will become the most senior US diplomat to visit Zimbabwe since the coup that dislodged Robert Mugabe as president in November 2017.
Scott, who is expected in Harare on Tuesday, will be in the country for four days amid a tense atmosphere while Zimbabwe gears up for elections later this year.
The Zimbabwe government views it as a diplomatic victory and says Scott’s visit is “on the back of inroads” into relations with the US government.
Livit Mugejo, the spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Frederick Shava, said Scott would be shown the “reform priorities” of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, “, especially in the last five years”.
In 2022, Zimbabwe was invited to the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington and was represented by Shava, the country’s former envoy to the United Nations (UN) in New York.
Mnangagwa wasn’t invited because he is on the US’ targeted sanctions list and only travels to the US on UN business. Even then, he is only allowed to travel within a 40-km radius of the UN.
Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs ministry said the discussions with Scott would include a review of the US-Africa Leaders Summit. The summit issues centred on democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Opposition party sources told News24 they hoped Scott would address the uneven political playing field ahead of the elections and the politicisation of the legal system with the government. They said one case in point was the arrest of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator Job Sikhala.
In an interview with online publication NewZimbabwe.com, CCC president Nelson Chamisa said Mnangagwa was frustrating democracy through “insane conduct”, the arbitrary arrest of opposition activists and the banning of their rallies.
Source: News 24