The long history of violence and humanitarian crises in Zimbabwe and U.S. policy toward the troubled country were the focus of a congressional hearing Wednesday held by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees international human rights and African issues.
"There is serious contention within the ruling party for the right to succeed President Mugabe once he leaves office, and added to the division within the opposition, politics in Zimbabwe is in flux to say the least," Smith said. "There has been mutual hostility between the United States government and the Zimbabwe government of Robert Mugabe since that country became independent in 1980. Mugabe and his supporters blame America for not supporting its liberation struggle, while the United States has criticized Mugabe's government consistently for human rights abuses, especially against its political opponents. With U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray encouraging U.S. businesses to invest in Zimbabwe last month, it would seem that U.S. policy is in the midst of a transformation." Click here to read Chairman Smith's full statement.
Click here to watch a webcast of the Hearing of House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights. The subcommittee heard testimony from Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, head of the U.S. Bureau of African Affairs, and from other U.S. Department of State officials and human rights groups. The hearing, entitled "U.S. Policy Toward Zimbabwe," examined America's strategies for addressing the anticipated departure of the aging dictator Robert Mugabe, and his government, and the prospects for next government.
The following witnesses testified (click on name to view their testimony):
* Johnnie Carson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of African Affairs
* Sharon Cromer, Sr. Deputy Asst. Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
* Mark Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group
* Paul Fagan, Regional Director for Africa, International Republican Institute
* Dewa Mavhinga, Regional Coordinator, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition