For the first time, the US government has openly admitted that it is sponsoring regime change activities in Zimbabwe. The admission was contained in a State Department report, supporting human rights and democracy: The US record 2006, released on 5 April 2007. Below is the section of the report on Zimbabwe, followed by a press conference question-and-answer session.
Zimbabwe is constitutionally a republic, but the government, dominated by President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu PF) since independence is now authoritarian. The 2002 presidential election and the 2005 parliamentary elections were neither free nor fair, and the government and its supporters intimidated voters, disqualified opposition candidates, constrained campaign activities of the opposition, and distributed food in a partisan manner.
During the year , the political opposition and civil society continued to operate in an environment of intimidation, violence and repression. In December, President Mugabe and his loyalists in the ruling party proposed extending his term for two years by deferring presidential elections to 2010, rather than holding them in 2008 as scheduled. The government systematically violated human rights, and official corruption and impunity were widespread. Security forces selectively harassed, beat, and arbitrarily arrested opposition supporters and critics within human rights organisations, the media, and organised labour. The judiciary was subject to executive influence and intimidation.
The government regularly used repressive laws to restrict freedom of assembly, speech and press. In an attack on the independent media, the government jammed broadcasts of the popular Voice of America Studio 7 programme, one of the few sources of uncensored news throughout the country and seized radios belonging to listening groups in rural areas.
The economy continued to decline, with skyrocketing prices, widespread shortages and rapidly deteriorating social services, primarily due to the government's command and control economic policies.
The US strategy for fostering democracy and human rights in the country is threefold: To maintain pressure on the Mugabe regime, to strengthen democratic forces, and to provide humanitarian aid for those left vulnerable by poor governance. The US government utilised diplomatic efforts, public outreach, and technical and financial assistance to advance these goals.
To maintain pressure on the regime, the US emphasised international cooperation and coordination. US officials engaged multilaterally and bilaterally to expand international support of sanctions against government and ruling party officials responsible for human rights violations.
A growing number of like-minded donors now agree that fundamental political and economic changes are a prerequisite to re-engagement by the international community with the government.
US officials regularly communicated to the ruling party the importance of lifting political restrictions and curbing human rights abuses. To encourage greater public debate on restoring good governance in the country, the US sponsored public events that presented economic and social analyses discrediting the government's excuses for its failed policies.
To further strengthen pro-democracy elements, the US government continued to support the efforts of the political opposition, the media, and civil society to create and defend democratic space and to support persons who criticised the government.
US officials observed parliamentary by-elections and rural district council elections in several towns and cities throughout the country during the year. The observers concluded that the ruling party's restrictive registration procedures, partisan distribution...