US president Joe Biden excludes Zimbabwe from historic Democracy Summit

US President Joe Biden has invited 100 heads of states from across the globe for a virtual two-day roundtable which will be held in December.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Jekesai Njikizana /AFP
  • US President Joe Biden has invited SADC countries for a historic summit, except for Zimbabwe.
  • The summit will seek to drive international collaboration, and speak honestly about the challenges facing democracy.
  • Zimbabwe has slipped from partly free to not free on Freedom House‘s score card.


Of note, most of the SADC countries, save for Zimbabwe, are expected to attend the Democracy Summit.

Tanzania and Eswatini are also not gonna be there. Eswatini is plagued with political problems while Tanzania have also not been invited.

While the public diplomacy section of US Foreign Affairs said it would not comment on how each country was selected, it added the summit would be an opportunity “for world leaders to listen to one another and to their citizens, share successes, drive international collaboration, and speak honestly about the challenges facing democracy so as to collectively strengthen the foundation for democratic renewal”.

The summit will be followed by another sometime next year, where Biden will host 100 world leaders in the District of Columbia.

“The December 9 to 10 Virtual Summit for Democracy will bring together leaders from a diverse group of the world’s democracies. In roughly a year’s time, a second in-person summit will take place,” the department said in a statement.

But for Zimbabwe, it is a diplomatic loss after President Emmerson Mnangagwa claimed to his supporters on his return from the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow he had discussions with Biden who promised to look into sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

A research fellow at the University of Witwatersrand, Dr William Mpofu, said Zimbabwe was failing to uphold human rights, freedom of expression, democracy and the rule of law which was basic tenets required from it.

“If you look at the diplomatic performance of Zimbabwe, all the attempts to re-engage and even join the Commonwealth, they have been ‘Idi Amin’ in nature. As a statesman [Mnangagwa] should do better than lying to the people,” he added.

According to global human rights and democracy think tank Freedom House, Zimbabwe’s status in the past two years had deteriorated from partly free to not free due to the authorities’ intensifying persecution of opposition figures and civic activists.

Despite strained relations, the US is the single biggest country offering donor assistance to Zimbabwe.

Since independence in 1980, it has spent at least US$3.5 billion through initiatives such as food security, support for economic resilience and health outcomes.

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