Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi E. Frazer shares her thoughts on the situation in Zimbabwe.ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRAZER: ...The United States remains very concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe. It has deteriorated significantly. When we look at the current crisis, you have a cholera outbreak as a result of the health infrastructure basically breaking down. Most of the hospitals are closed today. Sanitation, clean water is nonexistent. And you find really that that’s – that breakdown is across all sectors. Education: most of the schools are closed; children aren’t going to school. When you look at the economy, it’s completely imploded. There’s hyperinflation; the currency is worthless. And you continue to have political violence. After the fairly good March 29th presidential and parliamentary elections, in which Morgan Tsvangirai won, you’ve had a runoff that was roundly denounced by the EU, the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament, the United States, and most major powers around the world, essentially saying that the level of violence meted against the population by ZANU-PF made that a not free, nor fair election.
So we really have serious concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe today. And it’s ironic that given the breakdown of that country, the basically failure of the economy, that you have Mugabe now saying that he’s going to go to Doha for the UN Financing for International Development Conference, a follow-up to the Monterrey Conference in which countries agreed that good governance and investing in the health and education of the population, the human capital development, was key to getting greater financial inflows into these countries. And so you don’t have any level of development in Zimbabwe. It’s the one country in Africa that has had negative growth rates over the last decade. In fact, just last year it was negative 6 percent, whereas most of African countries have had 6 to 10 percent GDP growth rate. In fact, Zimbabwe’s economy is worse than Somalia, which has been a failed state for 19 years. Somalia had 2 percent growth last year, whereas Zimbabwe had negative 6 percent. That goes to show you what a major crisis this is.
And again, going back to the UN conference, one of the things that we’ve learned is that if a neighboring country is imploding, it has a negative impact on the growth rates of all of the surrounding countries – South Africa, Zambia, all of them are neighbors to Zimbabwe – and yet we can expect that it will pull down their GDP growth rates by 1 to 2 percent just because of the crisis in Zimbabwe. So it’s not just one that’s impacting the citizens of Zimbabwe, but it is, in fact, impacting the entire region. And again, it’s extremely ironic and unacceptable for Mugabe to be going to the UN Conference on Financing Development in Doha while you had the implosion of his economy and the crisis of his population taking place. This is much like what he did in June when he went to the UN Conference on Food at the same time that between June 4th and August 29th he suspended all humanitarian assistance to a population in dire need of that assistance from the international community.
So we will continue to work with the neighboring countries, particularly the Southern African Development Community, ask them to put greater pressure on Robert Mugabe to accept the spirit and the letter of the power-sharing agreement signed in September, on September 15th. The problem is ZANU-PF. The problem is a government led by Robert Mugabe in which he continues to try to rule through tyranny rather through the will of the population in Zimbabwe.