By Bulawayo Bureau
July 05, 2012 - The Herald, Zimbabwe
THE United States regrets its hard-line stance against Zimbabwe and is keen on mending the relations, out-going US Ambassador Mr Charles Ray has said.
Speaking at a farewell Press briefing in Bulawayo on Tuesday, Mr Ray, who is left with 19 days in the country, said he has enjoyed his three-year stay in Zimbabwe.
In a rare change of attitude, Mr Ray showered praises on Zimbabweans, saying the country had a lot of potential for economic growth despite the challenges it was going through.
He condemned negative international media reports on Zimbabwe saying such reports were responsible for repelling international investors.
“Reflecting on my nearly three years in Zimbabwe, I remain cautiously optimistic,” Mr Ray said.
“The long-term future of this country is bright, due in large part to the overwhelmingly energetic, dedicated and intelligent young people, who make up the majority of Zimbabwean population.”
Zimbabweans, said Mr Ray, have the sovereign right to determine their destiny and the choice to choose the leaders they want in a voting process without any outside interference. He admitted that his country erred in adopting a radical stance against Zimbabwe adding concerted efforts were needed to try and build bridges between Harare and Washington for mutual benefit.
“When I arrived in Zimbabwe I sought to change the nature of conversation between the US and Zimbabwe. For 10 years, we were just yelling and hurling insults at each other and we never really had a substantive conversation about anything. We were complaining about some behaviour and they were calling us regime change neo-imperialists,” said Mr Ray.
The US Ambassador urged Zimbabweans to bury their differences and have a unity of purpose in order to achieve meaningful development. He said he had learnt a lot from the inclusive Government.
“Despite political differences the unity Government emphasises the need for leaders to make decisions that will benefit their people and the importance of creating a sense of oneness for the sake of building the country.
“We should bridge the artificial divisions that have been created between and among people, the born frees and the born befores, the Matabeleland residents and the
Harareans. These divisions keep people apart and have built a form of intolerance that makes it difficult for people to reach to people they do not know and to trust them,” said Mr Ray.
The US envoy said his country’s model of democracy was not applicable to all countries adding there was no need for his country to seek to enforce its political principles on other countries. He said Zimbabweans alone should choose a way of reconciling the past mistakes. Asked about the attitude of US companies towards investing in Zimbabwe, Mr Ray — whose country’s sanctions law penalises US companies that invest in Zimbabwe — said most companies do not have adequate information about the country’s economic potential.Also see
Zanu-PF: Fending off, fighting on
This isn’t goodbye, even as I leave
US envoy slams international media’s portrayal of Zim