22 December 2008

Zimbabwe: U.S. No Longer Supports Power Sharing Deal

The United States government has made it clear it will no longer support Zimbabwe's power sharing deal signed in September, because Mugabe has reneged on it and is not interested in genuinely sharing power.

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, announced the new policy position in South Africa on Sunday. Frazer says she has spent the last couple of days explaining the policy shift to regional leaders. 'The power sharing agreement ... needs to be implemented with someone other than Robert Mugabe as president,' she said.

The abduction of opposition and civil society activists, the unilateral grabbing of key ministries and the general decline in the country's humanitarian and economic situation, have all combined to reinforce this new position by the Americans. Frazer told reporters in Pretoria that Mugabe was 'completely out of touch' and was responsible for turning the once prosperous country into a 'failed state' where food is scarce and the currency worthless. 'Today we know better,' Frazer said in explaining why they have changed their minds.

After the power sharing deal was signed the US government pledged to support reconstruction efforts, including a possible US$1.2 billion in debt relief and removal of targeted sanctions. 'That's off the table now with Robert Mugabe remaining in government,' Frazer said. She also said they expected 'a lot of hot rhetoric' from Mugabe, but that he was 'completely out of touch' with the fact 5 million Zimbabweans would need food aid by January. 'He has no idea,' she said. 'He's getting plenty of groceries.'

Frazer also told regional leaders they were protecting Mugabe by failing to criticize him. The South African government however maintained their stance of urging dialogue. 'We believe in that agreement as the way for Zimbabwe to deal with its problems,' said Thabo Masebe, a spokesman for South African President Kgalema Motlanthe. Mozambique has also called for the formation of a unity government as a way forward.

Meanwhile the UK Times newspaper has reported that businessmen accused by the US government of propping up Mugabe's regime, are operating freely in Britain. Out of 21 companies blacklisted by the Americans, 14 are based in Britain. Businessman John Bredenkamp is one key individual on the black list. Authorities in the UK treasury department said, 'We are considering a range of measures with EU partners in response to the continuing impasse in Zimbabwe, including further targeted measures. Announcing these prematurely would be ineffective.'


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