About the Author: James D. McGee serves as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe. Earlier this week, Ambassador McGee received the 2008 Diplomacy for Freedom Award.AMBASSADOR MCGEE: First of all, I think we can’t talk about Zimbabwe unless we talk about the humanitarian crisis that’s affecting that country right now. As you may or may not know, every major hospital in the capitol of Harare is closed. As of last week, at the pediatrics hospital before it closed, doctors were performing cesarean sections using the lights from their cell phones. That’s how desperate things are in Zimbabwe right now. Sewage running throughout the city -- there’s no running water in the city; raw sewage is mixed in with what water there is. The ground wells are being contaminated. People are drinking from contaminated water, and that’s why we have this horrible situation with cholera that we’re experiencing in Zimbabwe right now.
Fortunately, the American people and other people around the world have stepped up and started to contribute to alleviating these situations. But this is a situation that’s manmade and should never have happened. The Government of Zimbabwe, the illegal government headed by Robert Mugabe has abdicated its responsibilities, is much more concerned about enriching themselves instead of taking care of the people of Zimbabwe. And that’s why we’re embroiled in this horrible humanitarian crisis.
The other issue of course is the political situation. On September 15th, there was a universal political agreement, the universal agreement that was signed between the ruling party and the opposition parties. And here we are three months later, and still nothing that happened. And that’s an absolute lack of goodwill on the part of the Mugabe regime. Nothing is going to change until the Government of Zimbabwe starts to show some goodwill, some good faith, and to take care of the people of Zimbabwe by moving forward.
The regional bodies, especially SADC, needs to step forward and send a loud, clear message to the Mugabe regime that enough is enough, your day is finished, you need to start taking care of the people of Zimbabwe. And the way to do that is first of all to step down -- very simple -- step down. Allow a representative government, truly the government that won the election all the way back into March to assume power in Zimbabwe. Short of that, we’d be willing to look at a power sharing, a true power sharing agreement in Zimbabwe. But again, it takes good faith on the part of the Mugabe regime to make that happen. And until they do that – and I believe the only way they will do that is with a very, very strong message from the rest of the region; SADC has to step up and take this – they’ve consistently said it should be an African solution to an African problem. And we agree with that.
Editor's Note: Read Ambassador McGee's previous entry about Zimbabwe.