Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Zimbabwe: new US ambassador to SA talks regime change

In today's Independent, a story that the new US ambassador to South Africa is talking about regime change in Zimbabwe.
The United States has called for the building of a "coalition of the willing" to push for regime change to end the crisis in Zimbabwe. The new American ambassador to South Africa, Jendayi Frazer, said quiet diplomacy pursued by South Africa and other African countries in its dealings with the Zimbabwe president needed a review because there was no evidence it was working. She said her country would be willing to be part of a coalition if invited.

The US could not act on its own, "put the boot on the ground" and give President Robert Mugabe 48 hours to go as requested by beleaguered Zimbaweans but the US would be willing to work in a coalition with other countries to return Zimbabwe to democracy.

Ms Frazer, in a meeting with journalists in Johannesburg yesterday, said: "There is clearly a crisis in Zimbabwe and everyone needs to state that fact. The economy is in a free fall. There is a continuing repressive environment. There needs to be a return to democracy."

[...] She noted that repression in Zimbabwe had worsened and was making it impossible for the opposition to operate ahead of elections next year.

"So we have got to re-look at the approach, that South Africa is taking in terms of quiet diplomacy ... It's not evident that it's working at this point

"We have always talked about building coalitions of the willing and I, for one, believe that the coalitions of the willing are going to be the new force in global affairs ..."

Instead of quiet diplomacy, Ms Frazer suggested an open admission by regional countries that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe. That was an important first step followed by pressure to force Mr Mugabe to return the country to democracy.

The anti-Western bashing that was carried out by SADC leaders at their summit in Mauritius last week would not help change President Mugabe, she said. The Tanzanian President, Benjamin Mkapa, had lashed out at the West saying it cannot lecture democracy to African countries which it oppressed through a policy of colonialism in the first place. (source)