By Daniel Nemukuyu
Two United States of America senators, Messrs Jeff Flake and Chris Coons – who were involved in the drafting of a recently proposed amendment to the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) – arrived in the country yesterday on a whistle tour during which they will discuss Zimbabwe-US relations before flying back on Sunday.
The delegation landed at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport yesterday afternoon and is expected to meet separately President Mnangagwa, members of civic society and opposition political parties in two days before flying back.
US embassy’s public diplomacy officer Ms Stacy Lomba confirmed the development, saying the head of delegation, Senator Coons, would address the media this afternoon.
“The delegation is here in Harare to meet the President of Zimbabwe, civic society and opposition political parties,” she said.
“Remember, the senators participated in the ZDERA amendment and they will depart on Sunday after meeting all the targeted people.”
Senators Coons and Flake and members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee introduced a Bill to lay a framework to try and mend relations between the US and the new Government in Zimbabwe. The senators made numerous demands which they said Zimbabwe should meet before sanctions imposed on the country in 2001 could be removed.
President Mnangagwa advised the senators to first visit Zimbabwe so they could make their comments from an informed point of view.
The US embassy issued a statement yesterday inviting journalists to a media briefing today.
“Senator Chris Coons will address a media briefing on Saturday (April 7, 2018) at 2.15pm at Armadale Lodge in Borrowdale,” said the embassy.
“You are invited to this event, which will start promptly and ends at 2.45pm. The briefing provides you with an opportunity to understand US’s position on the future of the US-Zimbabwe relations.”
Last month, the US government proposed what was termed a revised version of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, with a lot of prescriptive demands similar to those made by the MDC-T and its alliance partners the same month.
President Mnangagwa last month urged the US administration to make informed decisions on Zimbabwe and stop reading only the text of opposition political parties that are afraid of elections.
He said the US should have an appreciation of the situation on the ground to make rational decisions.
Messrs Flake (Republican) and Coons (Democrat) — who are members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee – recently unveiled a proposed revised version of ZDERA of 2001.
They proposed conditions similar to demands made by the MDC Alliance through its Plan and Environment for A Credible Election (PEACE) document launched by its presidential candidate, Mr Nelson Chamisa, last week.