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Bush Calls for Action in Zimbabwe 'Nightmare'
Describes President Robert Mugabe a 'discredited dictator'
Ntungamili Nkomo (ntungab)     Print Article 
Published 2008-02-15 10:43 (KST)   
US President George W. Bush on Thursday challenged President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to apply more pressure on Zimbabwean leader President Robert Mugabe to accept reforms, in what analysts said was a veiled attack by Bush on Mbeki's failure to decisively deal with the Zimbabwe issues.

In a speech on Washington's policy on Africa Bush described President Mugabe, who stands accused of gross human rights violations, as a "discredited dictator."

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He pledged that America will continue to support all democratic efforts to restore freedom in Zimbabwe, and challenged "neighbors in the region, including South Africa" to do the same.

"In Zimbabwe, a discredited dictator presides over food shortages, staggering inflation and harsh repression," Bush said. "America will continue to support freedom in Zimbabwe and I urge neighbors in the region, including South Africa, to do the same. We look forward to the hour when this nightmare is over and the people of Zimbabwe regain their freedom."

Political analysts were quick to note that Bush's challenge on South Africa was a direct assault on President Mbeki's "quite diplomacy" on the Zimbabwean leader.

Mbeki has refused to criticize President Mugabe for his human rights violations. He has chosen what he has described as "quite diplomacy" despite glaring evidence President Mugabe would not listen to his diplomacy.

During his visit to South Africa in June 2003, President Bush tacitly endorsed Mbeki as the "point man" who would broker a deal between the feuding opposition MDC and President Mugabe's governing Zanu PF party.

In a television interview in Pretoria, South Africa during his visit; Bush said of Mbeki with regards to the Zimbabwe crisis: "President Mbeki is the point man in this important subject. He is working it very hard. He is in touch with the parties involved. I think Mr. Mbeki can be an honest broker..."

But Mlamuli Nkomo, a political analyst at a South African university said Bush's speech showed that the Bush administration had lost confidence in Mbeki as a "point man" in brokering a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.

"It has become common knowledge that President Mbeki has failed in his mediation efforts in Zimbabwe. You will recall that President Bush once revealed that he believed Mbeki would negotiate a settlement between Zimbabwe's warring parties, but it seems he is also convinced Mbeki is not doing much to pressure Mugabe to commit himself to the negotiations and resolve the Zimbabwean crisis," noted Nkomo.

Mbeki was tasked by SADC to negotiate a settlement between President Mugabe's Zanu PF and the opposition MDC, but his approach on the Mugabe administration has not worked.

His negotiation efforts collapsed dramatically last month when President Mugabe refused to embrace radical political reforms and also rejected an opposition demand to implement a new constitution before the elections he has called for March 29.

"Like President Bush, I believe Mbeki should come out in the open and tell the world that the person who has scuttles his efforts to resolving the Zimbabwean issue is Mugabe. If anything, he should do just more than being diplomatic and apply some kind of pressure that will make Mugabe feel the pinch," commented Nkomo.

President Mugabe has hit out at Washington in speeches before, accusing President Bush of "rank hypocrisy" for lecturing him on human rights issues.

Washington has imposed targeted sanctions on President Mugabe and more than 100 officials of his government; accusing them of perpetrating human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ntungamili Nkomo

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