Canada established diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe upon its independence in 1980. Canada has an embassy in Harare, and Zimbabwe has an embassy located in Ottawa.
Following elections on July 31, 2013, Robert Mugabe was declared the President of Zimbabwe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party secured a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. Canada congratulated the people of Zimbabwe for participating peacefully in elections, but expressed serious concerns about the reported irregularities and lack of transparency in the democratic process, which call into question whether the results can credibly represent the will of the people. In Zimbabwe, Canada continues to support the emergence of a government respectful of human rights, democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. Canada also works to maintain political and diplomatic pressure to promote positive reforms in Zimbabwe that will improve the lives of the Zimbabwean people.
Prior to the elections, Canada supported progress under Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement (GPA), signed in September 2008. Some progress was achieved under the GPA in the lead-up to elections, including the restoration of public services, a decrease in politically motivated violence, and the enactment of a new constitution.
In 2008, under the Special Economic Measures Act (Zimbabwe) Regulations, Canada imposed targeted economic measures which froze the assets designated persons (177 individuals, 4 entities). The Regulations also banned the export or transport of arms and related material to Zimbabwe, and prohibited the provision of technical or financial assistance relating to arms. However, these measures do not impeded trade and investment with the vast majority of Zimbabweans. Canada will review these targeted measures once there are genuine and lasting policy shifts towards democratic and accountable governance, as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Two-way merchandise trade rose to $11.8 million in 2013, consisting of $4.2 million in exports to, and $7.6 million in imports from, Zimbabwe. Top Canadian merchandise exports to Zimbabwe include machinery, equipment, cereals, medical instruments, and electric machinery. Top Canadian merchandise imports comprise mainly of ores, nickel and related products, vermiculite and granite, as well as tobacco products. Canadian investment in Zimbabwe is predominantly in the mining sector. The number of Zimbabwean students studying in Canada has increased from 222 in 2007 to 416 in 2013, showing a continued growth of 87% over the last six years.
As part of the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2012, Canada is restructuring and streamlining its operations. As a result, the bilateral development assistance program for Zimbabwe ended in March 2014. Zimbabwe will continue to remain eligible for support through the Pan-Africa regional program, as well as through Multilateral and Global programs (including international humanitarian assistance when needed) and the Partnerships with Canadians Program. Furthermore, over the past years, the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives administered by the Embassy has been providing support to local organizations to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law.