Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
Zimbabwe and the United States have agreed to cooperate and resolve their differences diplomatically as opposed to the public spats that had characterised their relations since the turn of the millennium.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo and US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols met in Harare yesterday and discussed a number of issues concerning the two countries.
Both confirmed the meeting, adding that it was held in a cordial environment.
The meeting came about after Ambassador Nichols requested to meet Dr Moyo to discuss a number of issues.
“There was a note verbale that the Ambassador wanted to see me. He had a number of issues, but we ended up having a long meeting; it was cordial though,” said Dr Moyo.
A note verbale is a diplomatic communication prepared in the third person and unsigned.
Ambassador Nichols commented on the Global Compensation Agreement.
It was the first time that an American official commented positively on the land reform process aimed at compensating former white farmers for the developments made on the farms, and not the land itself.
The American Ambassador acknowledged progress in the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, which is in line with the reforms that the Second Republic has embarked on.
On the request to meet the ANC delegation — which request was publicly noted by Cde Magashule — Ambassador Nichols said he never made such a request.
The Ambassador also denied having said Zimbabwe was in “turmoil”, as was attributed to him in an interview with a South African TV station.
Dr Moyo said the Government was best placed to know the situation prevailing in the country better than foreign ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe.
The meeting was in line with Government’s drive for engagement and re-engagement designed to normalise relations with all countries that were previously hostile to Harare while continuing to explore opportunities for cooperation with those that were friendly.
Posting on his Twitter handle after the meeting, Dr Moyo said: “Today I had a fruitful meeting with the US Ambassador & we agreed to forge close cooperation between our two countries. We have a lot of common (issues) that should bring us together rather than divide us. We resolved to address our differences diplomatically & not to antagonise each other.”
On his part, Ambassador Nichols wrote: “Constructive and wide-ranging discussion with Foreign Minister Moyo. I welcomed progress in court cases involving Godfrey Kurauone, Frank Chikowore, Samuel Takawira.”
Zimbabwe and the US have had frosty relations since 2000 when Harare embarked on the irreversible land reform aimed at correcting land ownership imbalances.
The agrarian reforms saw most of the 4 000 white commercial farmers losing their land, resulting in the imposition of sanctions by the US in December 2001, while the European Union followed suit in 2003.
While the EU has maintained the sanctions, it has largely relaxed them but the US continues to play hardball.
Yesterday’s engagement came at a time Zimbabwe has been raising red flags over the US’ “interference in internal affairs”, with political analysts suggesting that Ambassador Nichols was “taking his admiration for opposition politicians and civic society too far”.
This was after he openly criticised Government for maintaining law and order by arresting political activists Hopewell Chin’ono, Job Sikhala and Jacob Ngarivhume for threatening to make the country ungovernable through violent demonstrations on July 31 aimed at unseating a constitutionally elected government.
Further, it has been suggested that the US Embassy has paid a number of “influential people” in the region including politicians and journalists to drive an anti-Zimbabwe crusade ahead of the first anniversary of the regional anti-sanctions campaign on October 25.
Political analysts told The Herald yesterday that the US wanted the region to divert its focus to the alleged human rights abuses, a development that would have made Zimbabwe appear as a “villain and not victim of sanctions”.
The US, together with other Western embassies in Harare, have also been quick to condemn Zimbabwe for alleged human rights violations, even in cases where some of the embassies have been strongly implicated in organising some of the “fake abductions” of activists and demonstrations.
Intelligence sources have suggested that some of the Western embassies “provide shelter” to the allegedly abducted activists, hence shocking discoveries that all of them have always been found with their cell phones fully charged and clean clothes.