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US opens $300m embassy in Zimbabwe

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US EMBASSY ZIMBABWE

The United States of America opened its US$292 million embassy compound in Harare, a structural behemoth believed to be one its largest embassies in Africa and beyond.

US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said the new embassy symbolised the United States’ ongoing and durable commitment to the people of Zimbabwe.

The US has, for the past two decades, maintained illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe that are responsible for massive de-industrialisation and increased investor risks since the global superpower also sanctions countries and businesses, including banks, that deal with Zimbabwe.

The US administration has not been equal to embrace President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement policy, despite Zimbabwe opening doors to dialogue and engagement.

In March, US President Donald Trump extended by another year an executive order that gives effect to the punitive regime, that is seen as an instrument to bludgeon the poor and effect change of Government in Harare.

A group of protesters has been picketing the new embassy demanding the removal of sanctions.

But Ambassador Nichols struck a conciliatory note yesterday, commending progress being made by Government to align the country’s laws to the Constitution and pledged to strengthen its partnership with Zimbabwe through trade and investment.

He said the US would build relations.

“In addition to structures, we built relationships across a network of service providers,” he said. “We look forward to deepening those relationships.

The United States aspires to strengthen its partnership with Zimbabwe and to expand trade and investment between our countries. Embracing political and economic reform is the key to achieving these goals.

“We are pleased the Government is moving toward repealing legislation that fails to align with Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution. The right of Zimbabweans to express their views peacefully, to collectively bargain, and to choose their leaders via free and fair elections should never be infringed,” he said.

Ambassador Nichols called for a national dialogue on political, social and economic reforms to build confidence in a new Zimbabwe.

He said the new embassy was inspired by the architecture used in the construction of Great Zimbabwe.

“Senior great architecture enriches the people and society around it. The proud people of this land knew this truth a millennia ago when they laid the foundations of Great Zimbabwe, the land of kings, nearly 300 kilometres from here. And Great Zimbabwe served as the inspiration for this beautiful building.

“Our campus evokes Zimbabwe’s geography. The country’s wide open rural plains, known as the “veld” are distinguished by their gently sloping terrain, vast grasslands and tree cover. The canopy over the main entrance that draws its inspiration from the mbira dzavadzimu, or “voice of the ancestors,” a musical instrument that the people of Zimbabwe have played for thousands of years,” he said.

An American artist Yael Kanarek created the hanging art with the words ‘Night’ and ‘Day’ in 19 languages spoken in Zimbabwe.

Ambassador Nichols expressed his appreciation to Government and the City of Harare for their support and co-operation during the construction of the structure.

Ambassador Mathema congratulated US President Donald Trump and the people of America and said the construction of the new complex in Zimbabwe was a sign of a beautiful future between the two countries.

“The construction of this building shows what good relations we have and what beautiful thoughts we have about each other.

“We hope for the best all the time. It is a good sign and shows the US is going to be here forever,” he said.

United States director, Bureau of overseas buildings operations, Mr Tad Davis said he was proud of this new embassy’s eco-friendly features which pursue resiliency, energy savings and sustainability goals, that aim to reduce the overall environmental impact, while optimizing building performance, to enhance the self-sufficiency of the campus.

“This embassy not only demonstrates our long term commitment to partnership with the people of Zimbabwe but enables us to advance prosperity, security and stability as mutual goals in line with our Africa Strategy. May this occasion serve as a platform to further enhance and strengthen the co-operation between the United States of America and Zimbabwe,” he said. The Herald

NEWS

Kembo Mohadi resigns amid sex scandal

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Kembo Mohadi sex scandal

Zimbabwe Vice President Kembo Mohadi resigned on Monday following local media reports he had engaged in improper conduct.

Kembo Mohadi, along with Constantino Chiwenga, was a deputy to President Emmerson Mnangagwa since 2018, but without a political power base, he was not seen as a potential successor to the president.

In a rare move by a public official in Zimbabwe, Kembo Mohadi said he had taken the decision to step down “not as a matter of cowardice but as a sign of demonstrating great respect to the office of the President”.

I have been going through a soul-searching pilgrimage and realised that I need the space to deal with my problem outside the governance chair,” he said in a statement released by the Ministry of Information.

Local online media service ZimLive has in the past two weeks carried reports that Kembo Mohadi had improper sexual liaisons with married women, including one of his subordinates.

Mohadi, 70, denied the accusations last week saying this was part of a political plot against him. On Monday he continued to deny the accusations saying he would seek legal recourse.

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Zimbabwe agrees to pay $3.5 billion compensation to white farmers

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Zimbabwe White Farmers

Zimbabwe agreed on Wednesday to pay $3.5 billion in compensation to Zimbabwe white farmers whose land was expropriated by the government to resettle black families, moving a step closer to resolving one the most divisive policies of the Robert Mugabe era.

But the southern African nation does not have the money and will issue long term bonds and jointly approach international donors with the farmers to raise funding, according to the compensation agreement.

Two decades ago Mugabe’s government carried out at times violent evictions of 4,500 Zimbabwe white farmers and redistributed the land to around 300,000 Black families, arguing it was redressing colonial land imbalances.

The agreement signed at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State House offices in Harare showed white farmers would be compensated for infrastructure on the farms and not the land itself, as per the national constitution.

Details of how much money each farmer, or their descendants, given the time elapsed since the farms were seized, was likely to get were not yet clear, but the government has said it would prioritise the elderly when making the settlements.

Farmers would receive 50% of the compensation after a year and the balance within five years. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and acting Agriculture Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri signed on behalf of the government, while farmers unions and a foreign consortium that undertook valuations also penned the agreement.

“As Zimbabweans, we have chosen to resolve this long-outstanding issue,” said Andrew Pascoe, head of the Commercial Farmers Union representing  Zimbabwe white farmers.

The land seizures were one of Mugabe’s signature policies that soured ties with the West. Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in 2017 and died last year, accused the West of imposing sanctions on his government as punishment.

The programme still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe as opponents see it as a partisan process that left the country struggling to feed itself. But its supporters say it has empowered landless Black people. Mnangagwa said the land reform could not be reversed but paying of compensation was key to mending ties with the West. Reuters

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Chinamasa calls U.S. ambassador ‘thug’ as anti-government protests loom

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Chinamasa

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party on Monday called the United States ambassador a “thug” and accused him of funding the opposition ahead of this week’s planned anti-government protests that authorities say are meant to overthrow the government.

Without providing evidence, ZANU-PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa told reporters that U.S. ambassador to Harare, Brian Nichols, was involved in subversive activities to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Chinamasa’s comments echo the Robert Mugabe era, where the ZANU-PF government regularly accused the United States and Britain of seeking to dislodge it from power.

“He (Nichols) continues to engage in acts of undermining this republic and if he does so, if he continues engaging in acts of mobilising and funding disturbances, coordinating violence and training insurgents, our leadership will not hesitate to give him marching orders,” Chinamasa said.
“Diplomats should not behave like thugs, and Brian Nichols is a thug.”

The U.S. embassy in Harare did not immediately respond to Chinamasa’s comments. Political tensions are rising fast in the southern African nation after activists called for demonstrations on July 31 against government corruption, which they blame for deepening the worst economic crisis in more than a decade.

Last month, the government summoned Nichols after a senior White House official said Zimbabwe was among “foreign adversaries” using the civil unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd to interfere in U.S. affairs.

The U.S., Britain, E.U. embassies and the United Nations have all criticised Zimbabwe for the arrest of journalists and political challengers.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the West were promising when Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe after a coup in 2017, but have soured over the government’s human rights record.

Patrick Chinamasa urged party supporters to defend themselves from protesters and avoid a repeat of the deadly violence that followed post-election demonstrations in August 2018 and the January 2019 protests over a steep fuel price hike.“No, this time no. Use any means at your disposal to defend yourselves,” Chinamasa said. Organisers say this week’s protests will be peaceful. Reuters

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