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United States Ambassador Says America Welcomes African Immigrants

Ambassador Harry Thomas with VOA Directors Amanda Bennett and Negussie Mengesha.

United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Harry Thomas Jr. says his country welcomes Africans either as immigrants or visitors.

The career diplomat made the remark at a ceremony announcing the award of $502 million in additional health-care funding from the Global Fund to Zimbabwe.

At the event, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Harry Thomas, Jr. urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to put more funds in the health sector. As he was about to take his seat, he asked for permission to divert a bit from the subject of the event.

“I would like to say on behalf of our embassy, my government, the American people, we have tremendous respect for Zimbabwe, for the African continent, its people, its culture, its traditions. The immigrants to America from African, particularly Zimbabwe are highest achieving people. I just want to say from the bottom of our hearts, we are part of you, we are part global community. We have nothing but respect for you and we welcome you to our shores as visitors, or as residents.”

The clapping seem to be a sigh of relief following allegations that U-S President Donald Trump used a vulgar term in referring to African countries and Haiti in a meeting last Thursday about immigration. Ambassador Thomas, a career diplomat, was sent to Zimbabwe by President Barrack Obama in 2015. He did not directly refer to Trump’s comment, which the White House has denied.

Zimbabwe’s health minister David Parirenyatwa commended the U.S ambassador for his remarks. Ambassador Thomas, thank you for your last words. It’s very reassuring. We took note of that. Thank you very much indeed.”

On Tuesday, the Zimbabwean government said the remarks attributed to President Trump, had “shocked and dismayed” Harare.

For close to a decade now, Zimbabweans have sought opportunities abroad as the economy declined, or sought asylum as the human rights situation deteriorated under former President Robert Mugabe’s iron fist rule.

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