By Thabani Zwelibanzi
United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols has said Zimbabwe is at a crossroads, where it can choose the path to prosperity through reform or delay success by not implementing democracy.
Speaking at the US embassy Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday, Nichols emphasised that reforms were hard, but they had to be implemented if success was to be achieved.
“Zimbabwe now faces a choice, whether to accept the challenge of implementing the political and economic reforms that will fulfil the promise of its democracy or to postpone the path to progress and prosperity,” he said.
Nichols reiterated previous calls that Zimbabwe should observe “inalienable rights” such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
He further said Zimbabwe was at a decisive moment and the US would stand with the people of the country.
In his brief remarks, Nichols also mentioned that the US had given Zimbabwe more than US$300 million in assistance to better health, food security, democratic governance and for education programmes. A total of US$3,2 million had also been donated in aid to the victims of Cyclone Idai, which includes an additional $600 000 provided this week.
While scores of dignitaries celebrated in the new US embassy complex, a group was camped outside the building, protesting against American sanctions on Zimbabwe.
The group has braved the weather elements and carried placards indicating that they have been camped outside the embassy for 97 days.
They have set up temporary structures and denounce the sanctions, which the US insists would fall away if Zimbabwe implements key reforms.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government routinely blames sanctions for the country’s economic problems, but the Americans insist they have only implemented targeted sanctions that have no bearing on the country.
Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo said Zimbabwe was working on key reforms and America was a partner.
“The reforms that we have implemented are irreversible,” he said.
Predictably, he said what was holding back the deepening of relations between Zimbabwe and the US were the sanctions that the western nation imposed on the African country.
Moyo said they had got to explain the real situation prevailing in Zimbabwe to an understanding US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy at the AS-Africa summit.
However, Nagy tweeted that he had emphasised the need for reforms to the Zimbabwean delegation.
The US’s Independence Day is on July 4.