WASHINGTON — The Reagan Administration will withhold $13.5 million in aid to Zimbabwe until that African country apologizes for a cabinet member's anti-American speech on July 4 and takes other steps to soften its criticism of the United States, officials said today.
Earlier this week, the Administration announced that it was reviewing the aid program for Zimbabwe. Today, the State Department said that pending that review, $13.5 million in aid scheduled for the rest of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 will be put on hold.
Among the aid on hold is $9 million for a family planning program and an agriculture development project. Agreements governing these two programs were to have been signed this week in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, but the events were canceled.
"There are two projects ready for bilateral signing, and these will be on hold pending the completion of our review," the State Department announced.
The break in the aid program was sparked on July 4 when David Kariamazira, the minister of youth, sport and culture, said during a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy that the Reagan Administration had ignored South African "terrorism." He made other remarks that U.S. officials at the event thought were anti-American and inappropriate for a diplomatic reception.
Carter, Ambassador Leave
Former President Jimmy Carter and acting U.S. ambassador Edward G. Lanpher walked out during the speech.
A State Department official, speaking on condition he not be identified, said the first step toward release of the remaining aid money would be issuance of the formal apology the United States is demanding of the government of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe.
He said the department is also looking for "a return of civility" toward the United States on the part of the Zimbabwean government.
Since 1980, when the black majority government took over in Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, the United States has provided more than $370 million in economic assistance. This year, $7 million has been disbursed.
The United States has led all nations in providing foreign assistance to Zimbabwe.
The July 4 incident followed recent accusations that the United States was helping fund clandestine South African radio broadcasts calling for Mugabe's overthrow. The CIA has been accused of arming dissidents in the country.