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U.S Congress Set to Discuss America, Zimbabwe Relations

FILE: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio seen during the opening session of the 114th Congress in Washington, Jan. 6, 2015.
FILE: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio seen during the opening session of the 114th Congress in Washington, Jan. 6, 2015.

Zimbabwe will be the focus of a congressional hearing in Washington on Wednesday set to discuss a wide range of issues including sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle and future relations between the two nations.

Sponsored by the subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, the hearing marks a significant moment for Zimbabwe, which has not been a topic of much discussion of late in Washington.

Panelists testifying at the hearing are deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa, Shannon Smith, executive director Ben Freeth of the Mike Campbell Foundation, and regional program director for Africa, Imani Countess of the Solidarity Center.

Countess is one of the panelists speaking at a congressional hearing on Zimbabwe.

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Smith was part of a high-level delegation which visited Zimbabwe two weeks ago that also included Steven Feldstein, assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

They were assessing the current situation in the country amid concerns of the worsening socio-economic and political environment in the nation.

Countess told Studio 7 a lot will be discussed, including the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA), which was passed by the United States congress to provide a transition to democracy and to promote economic recovery in Zimbabwe.

Its primary objective was to “support the people of Zimbabwe in their struggle to effect peaceful, democratic change, achieve broad-based and equitable economic growth, and restore the rule of law.”

A delegation of U.S. business executives from the influential Corporate Council on Africa - which promotes trade between Washington and Africa – is expected to arrive in Zimbabwe on Wednesday to explore business opportunities in various sectors of the economy.

The mission has so far visited Zambia. The delegation is expected to hold key meetings with Zimbabwean government ministers of finance, agriculture, tourism and trade.

They will also meet with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya as well as officials from the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, among others.

USA and its allies imposed targeted sanctions on President Mugabe and his colleagues following elections which they said were rigged in favour of his party and other related issues.