U.S. assistance to Zimbabwe, which exceeded $32 million in FY1995, dropped substantially in the second half of the decade (see Table 1). Nonetheless, a limited assistance program continues, targeted on programs and non-governmental organizations seeking to strengthen democracy, raise living standards among the poor, and fight the AIDS epidemic. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) maintains that its programs are helping to preserve the foundation of Zimbabwe’s economy, so that there can be a quick recovery if a credible political transition occurs. (USAID FY2002 Budget Justification to Congress.)
In June 2000, the Senate passed S. 2677, the Zimbabwe Democracy Act of 2000, which criticized the government of Zimbabwe and ZANU-PF for pre-election violence and imposed certain sanctions. The bill, which was not taken up by the House, was heavily criticized by Zimbabwe officials – indeed, Foreign Minister Mudenge called it an attempt to “recolonize” Africa (Africa News, August 4, 2000) that might require emergency measures in response. Supporters of the legislation argued that enactment would have sent a clear message to President Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe with respect to the U.S. position on democracy, the rule of law, and the need for a sound economic policy.
On August 1, 2001, the Senate passed a new bill, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (S. 494), which was referred to the House on August 2. Subject to a presidential waiver, this bill would have the effect of requiring the United States to support the continued suspension of lending to Zimbabwe by the World Bank and the IMF. However, if the President certified that the rule of law had been restored and that progress was being made in democratization, the United States would support a resumption of lending and provide other support for the Zimbabwe economy. The bill would authorize assistance for democracy and governance programs, and it calls for consultations with other governments on sanctions targeted specifically at Zimbabwe leaders responsible for the breakdown of the rule of law. The version of the Foreign Operations Appropriations (H.R. 2506) reported in the Senate would require the United States to oppose loans to Zimbabwe by international financial institutions unless the Secretary of State certifies that the rule of law has been restored. (For details, see Legislation section.)
Zimbabwe officials have repeatedly issued dire warnings of a further curtailment of civil liberties if sanctions are imposed by the United States or the European Union, which is considering selective sanctions directed against Zimbabwe government figures. A cabinet minister reportedly told the BBC in August 2001 that the government would have “no choice but to declare a state of emergency if we are under sanctions.” (BBC report, August 20, 2001) MDC leader Tsvangirai said on August 16 that he favors targeted sanctions that would, for example, prevent foreign travel by government leaders or freeze their overseas assets. Tsvangirai said he opposed sanctions that might further damage the economy.
H.R. 2506 (Kolbe/Leahy) Foreign Operations Appropriations. House report language was highly critical of the breakdown of the rule of the law in Zimbabwe; Sec. 520 of the House-passed version states