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Clinton to Push Pretoria On Zimbabwe Crisis

By Peter Clottey
07 August 2009

U.S Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton says she will push South Africa to do more to counter embattled President Robert Mugabe's negative effect on the Zimbabwe reform process.

But Mugabe supporters have dismissed her comments as external interference, saying Zimbabweans are capable of resolving their own problems.

Clinton's comment comes a day ahead of her scheduled meeting with top South African government officials on Friday.

South African President Jacob Zuma met earlier this week with Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in an effort to address concerns that are threatening to undermine the coalition government.

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni told VOA that Washington doesn't see Mugabe as playing a pivotal role in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.

"America has never accepted Robert Mugabe as a partner in resolving this matter, so they grudgingly embraced what the African Union and SADC (Southern African Development Community) have decided on in terms of the government of national unity," Fikeni said.

He said Pretoria will ensure Secretary Clinton knows the steps taken to resolve the Zimbabwe impasse.

"What will happen is that South Africa will say we've already discussed with Morgan Tsvangirai and promised to intervene again to prop up the peace process, which seemingly is ailing at the moment," he said.

Fikeni said there are no reasons to believe that South Africa would be pushed to do more in neighboring Zimbabwe.

"They (South Africa) won't agree that it is because of American pressure that they are actually putting more pressure on Zimbabweans to resolve the matter," Fikeni said.

He said both Pretoria and Washington are seeking to warm up diplomatic ties from the frosty relationship of recent years.

"Remember that this is an era where the South African new administration and American new administration are trying to mend things after what has been a chilly relationship in the (Thabo) Mbeki administration and George Bush administration," he said.

Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe has refused to meet the outgoing U.S ambassador James McGee the man he once described as a "house Negro". McGee had wanted to pay a courtesy call, as is the norm with outgoing ambassadors.

At a recent meeting in Libya, Mugabe also verbally abused Johnnie Carson, the top U.S diplomat to Africa calling him an idiot, after describing his predecessor, Jendayi Frazer as "that little girl trotting around the globe like a prostitute.

Fikeni said it will not be a surprise that President Mugabe will dismiss Secretary Clinton's remarks ahead of her scheduled meeting with officials in Pretoria.

"He will repeat what he has always said and what he said recently when he visited the family of his late deputy president (Joseph Msika) that the Zimbabwe problems would be solved by Zimbabweans. So I think that has become his touchline… to most of what is perceived as external interference or what he will present as external interference," Fikeni said.

Secretary Clinton is also scheduled to pay a courtesy call on South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela.



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