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Zimbabwe: U.S. Intervention Hurts Democracy

Unilateral U.S. Intervention in Zimbabwe Hurts, Not Helps, Democracy - Africa Action Releases New Statement on Zimbabwe Ahead of Upcoming Elections

Thursday, February 14, 2008 (Washington, DC) - In anticipation of the Nomination Courts sitting this Friday, February 15 to determine the candidates for Zimbabwe's presidential, legislative and local elections in March, Africa Action today released a new statement calling for a change in direction for U.S. policy towards Zimbabwe. The upcoming elections are a historic opportunity to end Robert Mugabe's 18-year rule, which in the past decade has seen a dire political, social and economic crisis emerge that has wreaked havoc on the living conditions of ordinary Zimbabweans. President Bush has pursued a tactless strategy of intervention through financial sanctions and unilateral political and diplomatic efforts that fails to promote real democracy for Zimbabwe. Continuing a tradition of solidarity with Zimbabwe's people that dates to the liberation struggle era, Africa Action calls for the Bush administration to abandon this misguided approach and instead pursue a multilateral process of dialogue that engages regional and international actors and promotes the role of Zimbabwean civil society.

Briggs Bomba, Africa Action's Program Associate for Public Education and Mobilization, said today, "The U.S. has a historical responsibility to support democracy in Zimbabwe not only because of its disgraceful support of the repressive Rhodesian regime in the past and its failure to honor its economic commitments to Zimbabwe's people made at the time of the country's independence, but also because the defense of democracy, human rights and social justice is an international responsibility. The indiscreet unilateralism pursued by the Bush administration is counterproductive to this aim. It lends credit to Mugabe's self-portrayal as a victim of Western imperialism and risks cultivating an opposition beholden to U.S. support that will be loyal to U.S. interests at the expense of Zimbabwe's people."

Africa Action urges the Bush administration to prioritize people over politics, and support a multilateral engagement by the international community and regional actors to ensure that Zimbabwe's March elections are free and fair.

"By pursuing a heavy-handed strategy against Robert Mugabe while simultaneously backing dictatorial regimes like those of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia and Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, the Bush administration undermines its purported commitment to global democracy," said Michael Swigert, Africa Action's Program Associate for Policy Analysis and Communications. "The U.S. should focus on constructively engaging the United Nations, the African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in dialogue with Zimbabwe's factions to create a democratic electoral environment that is truly people driven. Supporting the inclusion of Zimbabwean civil society initiatives in this political process must be a guiding principle for future U.S. diplomacy."

Africa Action's statement on the crisis in Zimbabwe can be read at


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