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Zimbabwe detains, deports USAID staff

By Staff Reporter

A group of USAID officials and contractors were seized, detained, harassed and later deported recently by Zimbabwean authorities, the US has revealed.

According to a Friday statement by US Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller, the officials were “conducting an assessment of the development and governance context in Zimbabwe”.

Miller said, “Members of the assessment team were subject to aggressive handling, prolonged interrogation and intimidation, unsafe and forced nighttime transportation, overnight detention and confinement, and forced removal from the country”.

He added, “As we have made clear in the strongest possible terms to the Government of Zimbabwe, these actions against a team of development professionals legally admitted to Zimbabwe to support the Government of Zimbabwe’s expressed commitment to democratic reform are egregious, unjustified and unacceptable.

“The Government of Zimbabwe has said it wants to pursue international reengagement and democratic reforms.

“Its actions undermine those claims. We take the safety and security of US citizens seriously and demand accountability from the Government of Zimbabwe.

“The people of Zimbabwe deserve better and we will continue to support them as we work to build a more inclusive, democratic society with accountable political leaders and government institutions.”

It is not the first time in just under two years that some US officials have been subjected to hostile treatment by Zimbabwean authorities.

In October 2022, state security agents secretly filmed two US Senate officials who were having a meeting with a civil society activist at a café in Harare, leading to a dramatic car chase.

Since the former allies’ diplomatic fall-out soon after the turn of the century, Zimbabwe and the US have led bitter relations worsened by sanctions imposed on the Southern African country by the superpower.

The US claims its hostile stance towards Zimbabwe is informed by the ruling elite’s poor human rights record, corruption and habitual poll theft.

Zimbabwe, on the other hand, accuses the US of calculated attempts to unseat the Zanu PF led authority and install “puppet” opposition leaders who will dance to the superpower’s tune.

The Joe Biden government recently scrapped its gamut of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe nearly two decades ago, narrowing the embargo to a targeted list of 11 individuals, most prominently President Emmerson Mnangagwa, wife and deputy Constantino Chiwenga.

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