THE American civil rights campaigner Reverend Jessie Jackson met for two hours with President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday, two days after meeting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in South Africa.
Jackson, accompanied by his family and the US ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton, held talks with Mugabe at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare.
He emerged to tell reporters that his discussions with the Zanu PF leader focussed on “reconciliation, investment and growth”.
They had also discussed Zimbabwe’s forthcoming general elections, Jackson said, adding: “The whole world would be watching this election, if it is free, transparent and credible, that would change the whole world for Zimbabwe and Southern Africa."
Jackson, who has spoken of his admiration for Mugabe in the past, also pledged to take up Zimbabwe’s push to have United States sanctions on several state-owned firms and government officials lifted.
“Just as we worked hard to bring down barriers within our own country, most of those barriers are down. We worked hard in bringing down barriers in apartheid South Africa. Those barriers are down. We will work to bring barriers down on sanctions because it is the right thing to do and it is mutually beneficial,” Jackson said.
“We are anxious for sanctions to end... We will not be satisfied until the barriers are removed between our two great nations.”
Jackson, a church minister and well-known black community organiser in the United States, was in the region to receive the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Silver award from South African President Jacob Zuma during the April 27 Freedom Day celebrations at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The United States has confirmed it is seeking to normalise relations with Zimbabwe after imposing sanctions in 2001. Last month, President Barack Obama and his new Secretary of State John Kerry dispatched special envoy Ambassador Andrew Young – who has been a vocal supporter of Zimbabwe’s land reforms – to clear the path for a complete re-engagement which would see sanctions being lifted.
In a newspaper article last week, Ambassador Wharton said: “We believe that dialogue and respectful engagement are the first steps to moving our bilateral relationship forward and I have been working to achieve this since my arrival last year.
“The visit by Ambassador Young and earlier visits this year to Zimbabwe by senior US government officials are part of this initiative.
“Peaceful, credible elections will be real progress and will lead to action on the part of the US — to include full normalisation of relations and the end of sanctions.”
VIDEO: AMBASSADOR YOUNG ON ZIM IN 2009