US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said this week that the United States will continue to review sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and other top Zimbabwean officials – but will only lift them when the Global Political Agreement for power sharing in Harare has been fully implemented.
Carson told the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa that the next two years will test if the current Zimbabwean leadership can stick to commitments it made in the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing to hold free and fair elections.
“Specifically this would mean the holding of free, fair and internationally monitored elections. It will also require state institutions to be de-linked from [President Robert Mugabe's former ruling] ZANU-PF,” Carson told the panel on Wednesday.
Representing Zimbabwean civil society, Regional Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga of the Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition told the committee that the issue of sanctions was a red herring and the real focus should be on instituting fundamental reforms.
“At a point when there are democratic elections and when there is a legitimate government, then the US government can review that relationship in terms of the new circumstances on the ground," Mavhinga told the subcommittee.
"At the moment it will be an unnecessary distraction,” Mavhinga said.
International Crisis Group Senior Vice President Mark Schneider said the United States has a key role to play to move GPA fulfillment and the establishment of a road map to elections forward by supporting the efforts of regional organizations.
“At this stage in an enormously complex and frustrating process, diplomacy and assistance should be conducted in close coordination" with South Africa, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union to promote reform.
Carson said that while the implementation of the GPA has been problematic from the beginning of the unity government, he believed SADC takes its its role seriously.
He voiced confidence that the regional body will not allow elections to go forward if it appears that the prevailing conditions will lead to a repeat of the 2008 crisis.