Monday, June 03, 2013

(HERALD ZW) US ambassador showers President Mugabe with praises
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 00:00
Bulawayo Bureau

UNITED States ambassador Mr Bruce Wharton has praised President Mugabe for calling for peace ahead of the harmonised elections expected next month and said his country was willing to work with Zimbabwe.

Mr Wharton was addressing a Press conference at the just-ended Bike Across Borders initiative organised by US embassies in Zimbabwe and Zambia in Victoria Falls to promote tourism and wildlife conservation ahead of the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly scheduled for August 24 to 29.

He said Zimbabwe was a magnificent place.

“President Mugabe has been calling for peace, and I believe him. You can see that he is sincere, the situation has changed from previous years,” said Mr Wharton.

“We are responding to positive changes in Zimbabwe. The constitution process that has taken place is a positive thing.

“I think the Government of National Unity has been challenging and difficult for some people, but I think that bringing Zanu-PF and the MDCs together in Government has been useful. I think all sides have learnt something about each other and about the ability to work together.

“Our change in approach to Zimbabwe is simply a reflection of changes that the people and the Government of Zimbabwe are making on their own. We have to keep up with Zimbabwe.”
Mr Wharton said Victoria Falls was well positioned for tourism growth.

“Victoria Falls will be a shining light ahead of the UNWTO General Assembly,” he said.

“We encourage Americans to come to this part of the world. There is a connection between tourism and economic development of the country.

“We are optimistic of the future of Zimbabwe in general and Victoria Falls specifically.”
On the protection of foreign direct investment in tourism in the face of the country’s indigenisation drive, Mr Wharton said every country had the right to regulate its investment in ways that protect its citizens.

“The key is that those rules and regulations be transparent and consistent and be applied equally to all investors,” he said.

“Investors can deal with a broad range of issues, but predictability, consistency and transparency are the key issues in giving investor confidence and encourage them to look for opportunities in your country.”

Speaking at the same occasion, US Ambassador to Zambia Mr Mark Storella said the co-hosting of the UNWTO General Assembly by Zimbabwe and Zambia would result in development for the two countries.

“Zimbabwe and Zambia are cousins, they are close historically and close culturally and they share the Victoria Falls rainforest,” he said.

“This resource is opportunity for prosperity for the people. We think that a more prosperous and peaceful and democratic Southern Africa is in the interest of all nations.”

The United States took a leading role in condemning Zimbabwe, imposing illegal sanctions and travel bans on its citizens.

However, it has shifted its position and recently sent its former ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Andrew Young, and Reverend Jesse Jackson to convey a message of reconciliation to President Mugabe.

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