Following last week's defeat in the United Nations Security Council of a U.S. resolution calling for more sanctions on the Zimbabwean government, the responsibility for finding a solution to the country's post-election crisis lies with the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee said Monday.
McGee said the U.S. and other Western governments will continue to pursue U.N. action, but added that "SADC and the African Union do have to play the major role. We're happy that we're starting to see some movement among leaders in SADC, in the African Union saying the right things about Zimbabwe. But saying the right things will not resolve this problem in Zimbabwe - we really do need to see firm action from SADC and the African Union."
McGee said the results of the March 29th first election round, in which the opposition claimed a majority in the lower house of parliament and Movement for Democratic Change founder Morgan outpolled President Robert Mugabe, should be the point of departure for talks on a power-sharing arrangement between the MDC and Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
"Anything after that has clearly been repudiated as an illegal election, not only by the Western countries but by SADC in their statement and the African Union in their statement," the ambassador said in an interview conducted live on Thursday's broadcast of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe by hosts Chris Gande and Blessing Zulu.
McGee said reports he was receiving squared with information from VOA sources saying that political violence had subsided somewhat. "From what we're seeing, yes, that is accurate, there has been a decrease in the political violence, but it's nothing more than, I think, a lull in the storm. We're concerned that any violence is too much violence. and there's no way that this violence has totally stopped. People are still being displaced from their homes, people are being kidnapped, people are being murdered. Any, any violence is too much violence."
McGee said the U.S. government would continue to provide "as much assistance to the people of Zimbabwe as possible," but "the government of Zimbabwe has to step up" as well.
Political violence has targeted humanitarian activities and that the Harare government "has to stop this," he said. Non-governmental organizations must be allowed to operate freely "and until this happens we are going to continue to have a problem in Zimbabwe."
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...