22 March 2002

SOUTH AFRICA: Nepad's future hangs in the balance

As world leaders gather in Monterrey, Mexico, to discuss the future of development aid, and President Thabo Mbeki's initiative, the New Partnership for Africa Development (Nepad), the Bush Administration is warning that the disputed Zimbabwe election is a serious obstacle to it's participation in Nepad. US Africa policy experts and government officials gathered for the first time since the Zimbabwe election, to air their differences and discuss them with Zimbabwe's ambassador. Some policy experts, such as John Prendergast, had dire predictions for Nepad. "We're here to mourn the burial of democracy in Zimbabwe and the eerie death watch of Nepad," Prendergast told delegates.

While one of the Bush Administration's top diplomats on Africa, does not agree there is a death wish underway for Nepad, he says what he describes as Zimbabwe illegitimate election is a serious obstacle. "If Africa doesn't step up here it's going to cripple our ability to provide the kind of economic development assistance we want to provide, not the humanitarian aid, or the other kinds of things that are our pet projects, but serious economic assistance. The Commonwealth has stepped up and we are gratified by that but we are looking forward to the rest of Africa stepping forward on this," Charles Snyder, of the US State Department, said. Snyder cited the treason charges against Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC leader, as one of the reasons why the US is so outraged. He said he was convinced the videotape which purportedly supports the claims, is doctored.

Zimbabwe's ambassador to the US rejected this analysis, and accused the US of meddling. "One doesn't see why, when a citizen of another country is correctly charged and is to appear before the courts of another country, there should be protests from another country. We think this is really double standards," said Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako. Mubako did not address US concern about the future of Nepad or the effect the turmoil in Zimbabwe is having on the economies of neighbouring countries. However the strong words from the Bush Administration is a clear warning to regional leaders, that the future of Nepad is on the line. (ZWNews / SABC News)

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