via Mugabe exit to reset Zim-US ties, official – New Zimbabwe 17/06/2015
THE United States is waiting for Zimbabwe’s long serving President Robert Mugabe to leave office before it can resume any meaningful efforts to mend broken ties with the resource rich country, a US law maker has revealed.
Mugabe however, intends to run for another term in 2018 when he would be 94 years old, meaning Washington may have to wait awhile before mending ties with Zimbabwe.
In a recent address to the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Christopher H. Smith, said President Mugabe’s unpredictable policies coupled with his penchant to stir up tensions out of nothing makes it difficult for Washington to make any substantive efforts to reconcile with Harare.
Smith explained the significance of Zimbabwe to the West despite being a relatively small country.
“The southern African nation is the world’s third largest source of platinum group metals and has significant reserves of nickel, gold, chromium and dozens of other metals and minerals. Significant diamond reserves were discovered in 2006.
“It was the abundance of such mineral resources, and their exploitation, which has driven the relationship between the West and Zimbabwe.”
Low-ranking US officials recently visited Harare and presented their findings to Representative Smith and his colleagues leading to the latter statement to the House.
The Republican politician chronicled Zimbabwe’s colonial and post-colonial history, and how the country has slid from a once promising economic jewel to its current distress.
The US congress-man did not mince words in placing the blame squarely on President Mugabe’s dictatorial leadership which he said was characterised by poll theft, corrupt handling of the country’s land reform process and a recent purge on reform minded Zimbabwean officials from his party.
“As if the government’s repressive tactics are not troubling enough,” Smith said, “political jockeying in Zimbabwe, including the recent dismissal of Vice President Joice Mujuru, places the succession to President Mugabe in doubt, which puts U.S. policy in question.
“Last week’s hearing examined current U.S. policy toward Zimbabwe and the prospects for an enhanced relationship depending on events that have not yet taken place.”
The US in 2001 enacted the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) in response to apparent rights abuses by President Mugabe on white land owners and blacks opposed to the 91 year old leader’s controversial rule.
The US has been unyielding amid calls by Zimbabwean authorities, assisted by like-minded Africans for the scrapping of the law.
ZIDERA is a combination of a travel embargo on targeted Zimbabwean officials and a ban on US firms from entering into any trade arrangements with the Zimbabwean government and associated firms.
Smith admitted the brotherly solidarity granted to President Mugabe’s regime by fellow Africans during the operation of the law held back US efforts to encourage much needed reforms in the troubled country.
“As a hero of the independence and majority rule movements, Mugabe has enjoyed the support of many other African leaders, who have considered him an honoured elder and have generally declined to join in international efforts to sanction his government,” Smith said.
“This has placed the United States in an awkward position, with limited African support for political and economic reforms in Zimbabwe.”
But in remarks that are sure to excite Zimbabwean authorities who have long accused the world’s most powerful nation of attempts to impose back door leadership change in Zimbabwe, the US lawmaker said his country was waiting for Africa’s oldest leader to vacate office before putting in place a sincere attempt to mend relations with the economically battered country.
“Of course, in foreign policy, one cannot wait until a crisis materializes in order to create a planned response,” said the New Jersey representative.
“A leader nearing the century mark, presiding over a fractious political scene in a country that has experienced political and economic turmoil creates a situation in which planning for a positive outcome to regime change must be devised.
“Zimbabwe is a country rich in both natural and human potential. Once the resentments of the current old guard have passed and democratic governance can be established, U.S.-Zimbabwe relations can become what they have never been: harmonious and mutually beneficial.”
His comments also followed a recent visit by a business delegation from the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), a premier American organization devoted to US-Africa business relations.
The visit was viewed a rare but tangible attempt by the US to foster a thaw in its relations with Zimbabwe.
A delegation of five U.S. Congressmen led by Representative Gregory Meeks in 2009 also visited the troubled country during the tenure of the coalition government but nothing tangible has materialised since.