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We will not be silent on rights violations: US

The United States (US) says it will continue reprimanding the Zimbabwean government for violating its citizens’ rights, adding that it will judge President Emmerson Mngangagwa’s administration by its actions and not what it claims.

Donald Trump’s government, which slapped the country with additional sanctions, has always been clear that the Zimbabwean government needs to implement meaningful reforms and respect human rights.

This has been a dent to Mngangagwa’s administration that remains keen to re-engage with the international community, which on the other hand has become doubtful of his administration due to the continued deterioration of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic environment.

In an exclusive interview with CITE, US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Thomas Hastings, said from their observations, the government was not doing all it can to protect the rights of their people.

“We have said repeatedly we wish to see the government of Zimbabwe respect its own constitution for example rights that are in the constitution, which based on our observations are not always protected or respected. We think that’s an important part of good governance and we will continue to speak out when we feel that the rights of Zimbabweans are being violated,” said the US diplomat.

He noted that just like Zimbabweans, the US expected more out of Mnangagwa as he made ‘many promises,’ promises that would be used to judge him,

“Yes we have been very encouraged by many of the things that President Mnangagwa has said since coming to power, many of the promises that he made as a candidate but at the end of the day we will look at the government’s actions, not only their words so we will continue to evaluate the actions of this government and not just what it says,” Hastings quipped.

The deputy chief of mission said US ‘certainly’ supported dialogue in Zimbabwe and was in constant dialogue with the government.

“Dialogue is a constant part of what the embassy does, the ambassador myself and the many other Americans who are diplomats stationed here. We are constantly discussing our disagreement with the government of Zimbabwe hoping to find solutions,” he highlighted.

Hasting added: “We also have said many times that we will support a broad based dialogue among Zimbabweans to include political parties, the churches and civil society as a useful way for the country to come together and form a common vision to a better future and solve its problems.”

His remarks were in response to sentiments made by United Nations Special Rapporteur on rights to food, Hilal Elver, who after her recent trip to Zimbabwe said there was potential for conflict unless the Zimbabwean government, political parties and the international community came together and dialogued.

Asked about his take on what could be done to solve the impasse between the government and doctors who have been on strike  since September 3, the US diplomat could only say they hoped the matter would be resolved soon.

“Any country needs doctors and nurses at work in order to have well-functioning health care systems so it’s our hope that can be resolved as quickly as possible. I understand that negotiations are underway, it’s not something we have a role in but we certainly hope it would be resolved quickly,” said Hastings.

He also expressed concern on the iron hand that usually met people who protested against the state’s handling of the country.

“Any time that people seem to be assembling peacefully and they are dispersed violently we are very concerned about that. We don’t think is a fulfilment of the rights that are in the Zimbabwean constitution for people to assemble peacefully,” said the deputy chief of the US mission.

Hastings was in Bulawayo this week, where he toured Mpilo Central Hospital’s HIV and Virology Laboratory that is funded by his US government.

Prior that, he was in Esigodini at the district hospital for a demonstration of the recently implemented Electronic Health Record in ART and TB patient care in a rural district.

He also toured other US funded projects in Bulawayo.

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