Zimbabwe has gone through political, social and economic changes over the years that have seen a shift of power in the control of government. People have various views on political processes in the southern African nation.
Former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, says the country is one of the most amazing nations in the world.
Ambassador Ray says all the time he lived in Zimbabwe, he saw a side of the country that has not been exposed to the greater world. He says there are many things to talk about in Zimbabwe than what people see on television and read in newspapers.
“Zimbabwe is one of the richest places in Africa with good infrastructure and beautiful landscapes. The people are educated and very friendly. There are many golf courses and a great selection of wildlife.”
Ambassador Ray used to interact with members of the Mugabe administration to discuss issues of governance, human rights and at times threats to his life.
“I had some friends in the Mugabe-led Zanu PF government and others who did not like me and they would always nag me. It was both good and bad.”
On sanctions imposed on some members of the ruling party, Ambassador Ray stresses that there are no restrictive measures that were targeted on Zimbabwe.
“There were never economic sanctions on Zimbabwe but members of the government close to 200 were put under targeted, administrative sanctions as a way of correcting the wrongs they were doing against human rights and unfortunately some companies and banks were also on the list, which affected the ordinary people. As an ambassador, I did everything I could to try and help with these situations.”
Ambassador Ray came in after the 2008 elections which MDC led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai had allegedly won but had been denied the opportunity to run the government. He says the decision by MDC to agree the offer of going into a coalition government was the best at that time for the country and the people of Zimbabwe.
“MDC did very well in their role as partner to the coalition government. They may have done better but under the circumstances, they did the best they could do as odds were staked against them.”
Asked whether the USA government played a role in the negotiations between ZANU PF and MDC over the formation of the coalition government, he says he was not involved since this happened before his time but found no reason why the U.S government would involve itself in that process as there were other players and interested parties who had more reason to do that.
“As far as I am concerned, there was no USA involvement in the process, I would not know if anything had happened before my time. There were organizations like A.U and SADC, countries like South Africa and Britain who would have more interest in Zimbabwe than the USA.”
In November 2017, then president Robert Mugabe was forced to resign by the military and Zanu PF members linked to current president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Quoting from his book ‘Lessons I learned From My Grandmother About Leadership’, Ambassador Ray simply says people should take responsibility of their actions.
“It’s very difficult for me to say it was right or wrong for the military to stage a coup to remove Robert Mugabe, but sometimes people have to do a necessary wrong to make things right. I refer to one of my books to say to you that people should do what they think is right and they should be able to live with the outcome of their actions.”
Ambassador Ray is expected to speak as a witness at the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sub Committee hearing on Zimbabwe after Mugabe on Wednesday in Washington DC, where he will talk about his experiences with Zimbabwe during his time as ambassador.