Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor


The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Zimbabwe to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Zimbabwe's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at 2009-2017.state.gov.

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The goal of U.S. policy is to support the citizens of Zimbabwe in their efforts to bring peace, stability, prosperity, and democracy to their country. The United States focuses on promoting Zimbabwe's transformation from an authoritarian government to one that promotes and protects its citizens' freedoms and seeks to meet their needs. Crucial to the realization of this objective will be for the transitional government to hold free and fair elections and to draft, pass, and implement a new constitution. The chief of mission and other U.S. officials continue to press publicly and privately for political and economic reform by making clear that expanding broad-based developmental assistance will be dependent upon the transitional government demonstrating its commitment to full implementation of the September 2008 Global Political Agreement, equal access to humanitarian assistance, macroeconomic stabilization, rule of law, democratic processes, human rights, and timely and internationally supervised elections.

To achieve these objectives within the context of the transition government, U.S. priorities include developing the capacity and independence of civil society and reformist elements of the transitional government. Specific areas of focus include strengthening civil society's ability to advocate for political reform and to hold government accountable; assistance to the parliament to enable it to fulfill its role in holding the executive accountable; strengthening media independence; and support to build the capacity of local government to enhance service delivery.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The United States encourages a transition in the country to a government that respects democratic process and human rights through a variety of means, including assistance programs, diplomacy, and dialogue. U.S. officials continue to raise the country's poor human rights record in international fora and bilaterally with other governments, emphasize with government and party officials the importance of ending human rights abuses, and convey concerns regarding politically motivated arrests, prosecutions, and violence. To encourage greater public debate on the restoration of good governance and economic growth, the United States sponsors public events that highlight how transparent democratic systems can empower citizens by leveling the political playing field, restoring the rule of law, and creating a market environment conducive to economic recovery. Publicly and privately, the United States encourages the government to implement the agreement that led to the transitional government, including efforts to draft a new constitution, and to prepare for free and fair elections.

U.S. programs strengthen the capacity of nongovernmental actors, including the media, to enhance civic participation, consensus-building, and accountability. The United States sponsors programs to assist civil society groups in improving organizational capacity, strategic thinking, leadership, and internal governance. The United States supports civil society organizations that document human rights abuses and provide critical assistance to the thousands of political party members and human rights defenders who have been victims of state-sponsored violence. Programs and organizations that provide citizens with unbiased information about government policies and the right to petition their government for change also are supported by the United States. A U.S.-sponsored radio program broadcasts uncensored news throughout the country. Despite government efforts to jam the transmission and seize radios from listening groups, this program is the principal source of independent news in the country. Citizens also have access to independent information through a U.S.-sponsored information resource center and other programs.

In support of religious freedom, the U.S. Government disseminates relevant reports on religious rights and promotes the benefits of religious pluralism. U.S. officials privately and publicly emphasize concerns regarding intimidation and harassment of religious leaders who criticize the government, condemn human rights abuses and flawed economic policies, and who seek to sustain a dialogue to improve the country's political situation. To encourage the protection of worker rights, U.S. officials publicly condemn the government's repressive restrictions on freedom of assembly. The United States also supports programs on labor issues, including activities to promote international labor standards and build capacity within labor unions. Labor leaders have participated in U.S.-sponsored professional exchange programs on civic activism, organized labor, and conflict resolution. Additionally, the United States shares best practices and promotes cooperation to combat trafficking in persons and supports programs providing assistance to trafficking victims.

The United States remains the single largest contributor of humanitarian assistance in the country. These programs provide food aid, HIV/AIDS services, medication and prevention for malaria and tuberculosis, and livelihood assistance to persons who are left vulnerable by the political and economic crisis, regardless of their political affiliation; and more recently assistance in support of the crumbling education and agriculture sectors.