This month, President George W. Bush issued an executive order freezing the assets of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and seventy-six other Zimbabwean officials. This latest action underlines the United States’ rejection of the Zimbabwe government’s efforts to undermine the country’s democratic institutions and repress its political opposition.
The U.S. has taken this action in light of the Zimbabwe government’s continued assault on civil society, characterized by daily human rights abuses including arbitrary arrests, beatings, and torture.
As U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State J. Scott Carpenter said on March 12th, “By riding roughshod over the political and human rights of his fellow Zimbabweans, by demonstrating his total disregard for human rights and democracy, Robert Mugabe has succeeded in reducing a once promising nation with a bright future to a state of ruin, desolation, and isolation.”
Today, half of Zimbabwe’s twelve-million inhabitants face the threat of famine. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, often forcibly at the hands of government militia or police. A large majority of Zimbabwean adults are unemployed. The roots of this catastrophe lie in the actions of President Mugabe and his inner circle. The Mugabe regime has curtailed the freedoms of Zimbabwe’s citizens, ruined the nation’s economy, and crippled its agricultural infrastructure.
The U.S. remains committed to assisting the people of Zimbabwe. The U.S. has already provided more than two-hundred-thousand metric tons of food, valued at over one-hundred million dollars, to Zimbabwe through the World Food Program and other international organizations.
The U.S. will also continue to focus world attention on the Zimbabwe government’s purposeful assault on the country’s own people. The situation in Zimbabwe can only improve through the restoration of the rule of law, respect for human rights, and reconstruction of the nation’s damaged democratic institutions. The path toward those goals is through free, fair, and transparent elections.