US condemns unlawful detention and deportation of USAID workers in Zimbabwe 

Source: US condemns unlawful detention and deportation of USAID workers in Zimbabwe – JURIST – News

The United States issued a statement on Friday condemning Zimbabwean authorities for their alleged attempts to intimidate US government officials and aid workers, subjecting them to unlawful overnight detention, prolonged interrogation and eventual forced deportation.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) alleged that their aid workers, who were there to “support civic participation, democratic institutions, and human rights,” had been verbally and physically assaulted in their attempts to foster democratic reform within the landlocked southern African nation. Administrator for USAID Samantha Power called the behavior “inappropriate” and “aggressive” and asserted that Zimbabwe’s actions “render hollow” the government’s claims that it is committed to democratic governance and reintegration within the global community.

Power, went on to pledge the US’ continued support and asserted that the US and its agencies would remain resolute and unflinching in their commitment to enacting quantifiable change to facilitate vital democratic reform:

USAID supports the people of Zimbabwe as they seek to build a more resilient, inclusive, and democratic society – with accountable political leaders and government institutions, active citizen participation, and adherence to the rule of law. We will continue to robustly support civil society, human rights defenders, and independent media and – as seen through our recent targeted sanctions – will not hesitate to take additional measures to hold accountable those who deny Zimbabweans fundamental freedoms and good governance.

Matthew Miller, the spokesperson for the US State Department, on X (formerly Twitter), called the government of Zimbabwe’s treatment of the USAID team an “egregious and unacceptable action contrary to the Government’s expressed commitment to reform.”

This incident marks the latest in a series of incidents between the US and Zimbabwe over the past two years, who have historically been at odds. Sharing a common history as former British colonies, relations between the two countries recently soured after the US sanctioned incumbent Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his wife and several senior government officials for their alleged involvement in corruption and human rights abuses.

Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said:

The United States remains deeply concerned about democratic backsliding, human rights abuses, and government corruption in Zimbabwe…our sanctions are not intended to target the people of Zimbabwe… we are refocusing our sanctions on clear and specific targets: President Mnangagwa’s criminal network of government officials and businesspeople who are responsible for corruption or human rights abuse against the people of Zimbabwe.

A spokesperson for Mnangagwa called the accusations “defamatory” and a “gratuitous slander” against Zimbabwe’s leader, government officials, and people.