The United Kingdom formally granted independence to Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) in 1980, following years of conflict between minority white rulers and majority black guerilla movements. The United States was the first nation to open an embassy in the country, and it pledged assistance toward the Zimbabwean Government's goals of postwar reconstruction, distribution and development of land, and the development of skilled manpower.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was elected as Zimbabwe’s first prime minister in 1980 and became president in 1987 after changes to the constitution created an executive presidency. He has remained in power ever since.
In 2001, the United States began imposing targeted sanctions on the Government of Zimbabwe, including restrictions on U.S. support for multilateral financing, financial sanctions against selected individuals and entities, travel sanctions against selected individuals, a ban on transfers of defense items and services, and a suspension of non-humanitarian government-to-government assistance. Despite strained political relations, the United States is a leading provider of humanitarian assistance to the people of Zimbabwe.
During the period between 2000 and 2008, the United States took a leading role in condemning the Zimbabwean Government's increasing assault on human rights and the rule of law, and joined much of the world community in calling for the Government of Zimbabwe to embrace a peaceful democratic evolution.
In 2008, the major political parties committed to forming a unity government and undertaking a series of reforms under the Global Political Agreement (GPA). The United States supports the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and our other international partners in calling for a stable, democratic, and prosperous Zimbabwe that responds to the needs of the Zimbabwean people. We welcomed the announcement in early 2013 of an agreement on a draft constitution, and look forward to a credible referendum on the draft. Peaceful, democratic elections that represent the will of the Zimbabwean people are the next essential step toward the creation of a truly democratic Zimbabwe – one with strong civil institutions, widespread respect for human rights, and transparent use of its natural resources.