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Observers Say U.S Showing Renewed Interest in Deteriorating Zimbabwe Situation

Posters of missing activist Itai Dzamara. Some civic organizations in Zimbabwe have offered $2000 for information leading to Dzamara's whereabouts. (Sebastian Mhofu/VOA)

Two American envoys are in Zimbabwe engaging business executives, representatives of civil society organizations and state officials.

Deputy assistant secretary for African affairs, Dr. Shannon Smith, and Steven Feldstein, assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, have already told government officials that the America is not happy about continuing human rights violations in the country.

Speaking Wednesday, the two said they specifically informed government officials that America is concerned about the disappearance of the leader of Occupy Africa Unity Square, Itai Dzamara, who has been missing for more than two months.

Dzamara was allegedly abducted by state security agents, a claim that has been dismissed by the government as baseless. Occupy Africa Unity Square is calling for the resignation of President Robert Mugabe being accused of allegedly failing to properly run Zimbabwe currently facing serious economic challenges.

The U.S has maintained targeted sanctions against President Mugabe and his inner circle, accusing them of human rights violations and allegedly rigging elections.

Indications are that the United States is not planning to relax travel bans and other sanctions anytime soon unlike what was done by the European Union early this year.

Africa Specialist at the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Jeff Smith told VOA Studio 7 the visit to Harare comes at a critical time as the U.S congress is preparing to hold a hearing on Zimbabwe in the near future.

“There is definitely increased interest in what’s happening in Zimbabwe because I think one of the issues me and others have talked about for a long time is that Zimbabwe is the, to my mind even more than South Africa, the tipping point in the region,” said Smith.

Dewa Mavhinga, Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher, said there are few issues Harare is missing in its relationship with Washington, which include ensuring good governance and the respect for the rule of law.

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Reacting to the two U.S envoys’ visit to Harare, Zanu PF activist and political commentator, Morris Ngwenya, said the visit will not change the relationship between the two countries as long as they don’t drop targeted sanctions.

“The USA has to realize that Zimbabwe is very important or very strategic because it is endowed with (a lot of) resources, therefore they have realized that Zimbabwe is strengthening its ties with China, which is a very big economic powerhouse as we speak globally,” said Ngwenya.

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