‘Trump snubs Mugabe over political risk’

Source: ‘Trump snubs Mugabe over political risk’ – DailyNews Live

Gift Phiri      17 February 2017

HARARE – US President Donald Trump’s phone call to South Africa President
Jacob Zuma highlights neighbouring Zimbabwe’s high political risk and that
Washington does not consider President Robert Mugabe a serious factor in
Afro-American political and socio-economic relations, opposition and
analysts said yesterday.

This comes after Trump spoke with Zuma on Monday this week to discuss ways
to expand cooperation and trade between the US and SA.

According to a statement from Zuma’s office, “The two presidents
reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the already strong bilateral
relations between the two countries. There are 600 US companies in South
Africa and strong trade relations between the two countries.”

In a quintessential rebuff of the 92-year-old Mugabe as tensions escalate
over Washington’s February 6, 2017 concerns over “the continuing
deterioration of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe”, the White House
apparently snubbed Mugabe, with the businessman and television persona
turned president maintaining a tougher US line against Zimbabwe.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba has reacted with indignation to
US’ damning criticism of Zimbabwe’s human rights record, telling State
Department officials they can “go and hang on a banana tree.”

Charamba told the State media Zimbabwe was waiting for an overture from
the Trump administration to see how relations will be between the two
countries during the Republican leader’s presidency.

“We are waiting for a cue from a new government,” Charamba said.

But Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition MDC said the snub highlights the
deepening of an already toxic bilateral relationship that matters
increasingly less to Washington.

“Put bluntly . . . Mugabe has been nothing but a curse to Zimbabwe’s
international relations,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

“No one, including even the Chinese, no longer trusts Mugabe. He is not a
man of his word. He indicates left and then he suddenly turns right.

“Trump doesn’t consider Mugabe as a serious factor in Afro-American
political and socio-economic relations.

“Trump knows that Mugabe is yesterday’s man; he also knows that Mugabe is
in the political departure lounge, he is on his way out of power.”

Trump and Zuma, according to a White House summary of their call,
reaffirmed an “expressed interest in identifying new, mutually beneficial
opportunities for trade” and to “deepen the bilateral relations.”

Analyst Takura Zhangazha said people must not read too far into Trump’s
snub as it does not change the structural dynamics in a bilateral
relationship that is slowly worsening, and slowly fading in importance.

“Trump chose Zuma because the latter leads the largest economy in the
region and is a key trading partner with the US and also in recognition of
the fact that South Africa is a regional powerhouse, at least
economically.

“This is also the same reason why Trump also called Nigeria’s (President
Muhammadu) Buhari.”

Trump also spoke with Buhari to discuss the strong cooperation between the
US and Nigeria, including on shared security, economic, and governance
priorities.

Analyst Maxwell Saungweme said SA has a larger GDP, larger population than
Zimbabwe, and better trade with the US.

The country exported $176 million in agricultural products to the US last
year under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) – a US trade
agreement designed to help African exporters.

“Zimbabwe is a very small country, with a tiny GDP, dilapidated
infrastructure, and facing economic downturn. Zimbabwe also has high
political risk on investments.

“So all these factors, including poor governance make us not a favourite
choice for stronger bilateral relations with super powers seeking to
expand trading relationships.”

Dewa Mavinga, a senior Africa researcher at New York-based Human Rights
Watch, said: “President Mugabe’s government needs to know that investors
can completely ignore Zimbabwe if there are no urgent steps to restore the
rule of law and establish conditions conducive for business that secures
the best interest of Zimbabwe and its people.”

Senior consultant at the International Crisis Group Piers Pigou said Trump
cannot engage Mugabe because of targeted sanctions aimed to maintain
pressure on Zimbabwe by sustaining the costs of its blatant electoral
fraud and rights abuses.

“The US cannot legally move on certain areas of engagement with the
Zimbabwean government until there have been significant moves on
governance, rule of law, human rights issues. This is clear from Zdera
(Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001).

“This (US) law appears to inhibit the kind of shift from the politics of
the stick to the politics of the carrot that we have seen employed by the
UK and EU, which has had mixed results and generated significant
frustration, in turn leading to a growing concern about the Zimbabwean
government and ruling party’s commitment to reforms it claims it will
implement.

“I suspect the US has watched this and decided at this juncture there is
not much to work with in terms of those issues.”

Nevertheless, the US remains a vital contributor to humanitarian support
and key service delivery areas to Zimbabwe, in particular the health
sector.

“Trump can override Zdera but there has to be clear cause to do so.  In
their calculations this is not so,” Pigou added.

Dinizulu Macaphulana, former researcher at Institute for Security and
Development Policy, said the US is focusing on SA, Nigeria, Botswana and
other countries in their scramble for the control of Africa.

“Zimbabwe will be inconsequential except as a problem to be solved.
Zimbabwe’s international relations died a long time ago,” Macaphulana
said.

Trump, who so far has been mostly focused on his “America First” agenda,
has not spoken at much length about his policies concerning Africa. But
his controversial travel ban, one of his first major executive orders, has
targeted three African countries: Sudan, Libya and Somalia.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 4
  • comment-avatar

    Why would president Trump waste his time calling Bob ?

    • comment-avatar
      Doris 5 years ago

      Probably,Andy, to remind him about what Trump said a while back. And that was that should he become President of America he would make sure that despots like Yuseveni and Mugabe would be locked up by him.

  • comment-avatar
    Chatham House 5 years ago

    Mugabe and Trump have similarities as in they can both probably be dangerous at times. Both have military at their disposal like Putin and the President of Syria. Civilians are simply operational and occupational hazards from time to time. Kill a few here and there and there is no problem as long as the countries or peoples concerned become re-educated to think as per the military indoctrinated system inflicted. The Empire had a go at the Boers – 25 000 civilians died in their Concentration Camps of a total population of 100 000 boers – a good strike rate for The Empire?. Hitler had a go at the Jews and the world at large. Millions perished. Mugabe had a go at the Matabele and killed at least 20 000 civilians. How many have perished in Syria? How many perished in Libya or Crimea? How many people did the Zimbabwe military kill in the DRC? What does the USA or the UK want from Mugabe? I wonder how many arms Mugabe took off people when he did the Operation Short Sleeve and Operation Long Sleeve to re-educate them about Zanu brutality?

  • comment-avatar
    JustJimBean 5 years ago

    To even think that ANY world leader should have ANY interest in Zimbabwe, besides its appalling human rights record, is just plain fantasy. Zimbabwe’s leaders have made it clear they have no agenda at all, besides looking after themselves.