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U.S Senate Bill Promoting Free Elections, Sweeping Reforms in Zimbabwe Passes Key Committee

Chris Coons and Jeff Flake in Zimbabwe.
Chris Coons and Jeff Flake in Zimbabwe.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday approved bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), both members of the committee, to lay the framework for U.S. relations with the government in Zimbabwe.

Senators Flake and Coons led a bipartisan Congressional delegation to Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, in April.

The latest development was announced in a statement issued by Coons.

The bill updates the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (ZIDERA) and sets forth the steps Zimbabwe needs to take to have sanctions on its country lifted, including ensuring the country’s upcoming elections on July 30 are free, fair, and credible.

“The upcoming elections are a once-in-a-generation chance for the people of Zimbabwe to move forward after decades of autocratic rule,” Senator Flake said.

“The ZDERA Amendment Act reinforces that if the Government of Zimbabwe is serious about bringing change to its people, starting with free and fair elections, it will find a willing partner in the U.S.”

Coons said, “This legislation reflects our sincere hope that Zimbabwe makes a transition to a peaceful, democratic, just, and prosperous nation.

“A free, fair, and credible election is a necessary, but insufficient step to increased levels and areas of cooperation with the United States. Zimbabwe's leaders must also commit to a peaceful and constitutional transfer of power in order to reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people.”

He further said, “We look forward to the fulfillment of the commitments President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa has made to the people of Zimbabwe to pursue broader political and economic reform, and to a deeper partnership between the United States and Zimbabwe as sufficient progress is made on these necessary reforms.”

Mnangagwa has pledged that Zimbabwe will this year hold free, fair, transparent and credible elections though opposition parties are complaining about lack of some tangible reforms, including a clean voters’ roll.

Zimbabwe is expected to hold elections on July 30th in which 23 presidential candidates will be featuring in the poll. More than 120 political parties are taking part in the crucial elections.

America imposed targeted sanctions on ruling party officials following alleged election rigging and human rights abuses.