UNITED States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Harry Thomas Jr, has said Washington is willing to assist in efforts to revive the country’s ailing economy and ensuring financial institutions and parastatals are not affected by sanctions imposed on Harare.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Thomas Jr told journalists on Wednesday that US assistance did not only involve doling out donations, but other investments, which have a “tremendous multiplier effect” across the board.
“The Zimbabwean economy is facing many challenges now, but we are helping the Zimbabwean economy not only through our donations,” he said.
Thomas Jr was speaking to journalists after touring Amalima projects in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North province, that fall under a five-year $41,6 million development food security programme.
“We are building a $200 million embassy, we employ 700 Zimbabweans, we set $32 million aside for their salaries, they get paid in US dollars, they have healthcare and all those types of things,” he said.
“We bought the bricks from Zimbabwe.
“The floor is from Zimbabwean companies. We have over 100 people from other countries and they are staying at hotels owned by Zimbabweans, and that is a tremendous multiplier effect.
“So, not all what we are doing is about aid, but a lot of it is helping you to develop your economy.
“There are so many things going on. We have invested in many things and we want to continue.”
Thomas Jr said Washington wanted to ensure that local financial institutions and parastatals were not affected by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) sanctions.
He was reacting to the removal of ZB Financial Holdings from the Ofac list, paving the way for the financial institution to re-open negotiations with foreign correspondent banks.
Several Zimbabwean companies have had their export receipts, amounting to millions of dollars, blocked owing to the sanctions.
“We are very pleased that Zimbabwean financial companies, ZB Financial Holdings and AgriBank, were removed from the sanctions list last year,” Thomas Jr said.
“That shows that we take these issues seriously. We analyse, we are really trying to look at the parastatals, the financial institutions that can help people with jobs and loans and that is something that I encourage you to look at.”
The US imposed sanctions on the country in the early 2000s mostly targeted at Zimbabwean politicians accused of undermining democracy and human rights, which involved asset seizures and travel bans.
Among those targeted were President Robert Mugabe and his wife, First Lady Grace.