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U.S Observers Urge Washington to Monitor Tense Situation in Harare

FILE: President Robert Mugabe swearing in ministers soon after the 2013 general election.
FILE: President Robert Mugabe swearing in ministers soon after the 2013 general election.

President Barack Obama’s government that recently dispatched a high level delegation to Harare is now being urged to monitor the situation in Harare as there are fears the nation might degenerate into chaos.

In an article titled, Omnious Warning Signs Resurface in Zimbabwe, which appeared in the Foreign Policy Magazine co-authored by Jeff Smith of Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Human Rights and Todd Moss of Global Development, the two argue that, “the Obama administration will need to keep a keen and close eye on the ongoing events in Zimbabwe, including tasking the intelligence services for an assessment of the potential for mass violence.”

They add that this should include elevating the issue of Zimbabwe to the president’s atrocities prevention board, which can readily address the early warning indicators of mass atrocities.

“So the Obama administration has made preventing mass killing a priority of the administration, so they created a special board within the government, to identify potential mass killing and to try to take steps to prevent them before they happen,” said Moss

But why should Zimbabwe even be considered as a candidate?

The two argue that, “over the course of the past few months, we have witnessed an ominous series of warning signs: bitter political infighting within the country’s ruling party, the worsening of already deplorable economic conditions, the abduction and disappearance of a prominent human rights activist, and a surge of inflammatory rhetoric and political violence.”

Smith further said there are no signs the situation will improve.

“Zimbabwe’s history is replete with examples of these sorts of abductions and human rights abuses, and we’ve certainly seen it recently through April and May in Hurungwe West for instance, the coming by-elections, and many of these atrocities are happening in full view of the police, who have not intervened. So I think taken together, all these instances should be cause for concern.


Moss concurs, adding that though there are many crises unfolding in many parts of the world, Harare must remain a top priority.

“There is no reason that the U.S. government can’t pay attention to Syria, and Burundi and other countries, and also keep an eye on potential problems in areas like Zimbabwe,” Moss

In a recent exclusive interview with VOA Studio 7, deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa, Shannon Smith, said Washington is keeping Zimbabwe on its radar

“Zimbabwe is not falling off the radar, it does matter. It matters to people in southern Africa, it matters to people here,” said Smith.

But on the question of possible intervention in Harare and possibility of chaos, Smith said Zimbabweans must control their destiny.

“The future of Zimbabwe is in its own hands clearly. Every country has processes to deal with those kinds of questions. Our emphasis is on adhering to the rule of law in such processes.”


Opposition political parties that have been warring recently are uniting to warn of a deteriorating situation in Harare. Opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe is on the verge of disaster.

“I can tell you that in their preoccupation with intra-party fights, no one is paying attention to the erosion of the economic well-being of the people. And people cannot just watch, that’s the most dangerous thing. It will cause instability in the country.”

At the same time, MDC Renewal Team secretary general Tendai Biti said the ruling Zanu-PF has no clue in addressing some national issues, making the situation even more explosive.

“Clearly, clearly, we are ripe for an implosion, and naturally the African Union and all responsible authorities must watch Zimbabwe very closely, because all the ingredients that where in Rwanda in 1994 are in Zimbabwe at the present moment. Hate speech, and hatred toxicity, two, absence of opportunities, three a huge army of unemployed people and social crisis, four, political vacuum. Our president is now an occasional visitor to Zimbabwe, cabinet hardly meets. All these things create a shaky background. So my colleagues Todd and Jeff are definitely spot on.”

Legal expert David Coltart of the MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube echoes Biti’s sentiments, noting that Zimbabwe is headed for chaos.

“Part of the problem is there is terrible political vacuum, in the country. If you have a combination of a political vacuum and a country which is rudderless, which has a history of people controlling weapons, in a country who has a history of violence, then you have a recipe for a very serious situation, in any country.”

Smith and Moss also argue that, “just as important, authorities in the capital, Harare, must know that the world is watching.


But Zanu-PF politiburo member, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, said Zimbabwe is a sovereign state, is stable and there is no need for foreign intervention.

“That has always been their wish, that if they put us under sanctions, then the economy will meltdown and people will rise up against their government. Unfortunately, that will remain wishful thinking. The people of Zimbabwe support their government. They know that the Americans are the enemies of the people of Zimbabwe. And the government is in total control of this country.”

However, MDC- spokesman, Obert Gutu said the situation is really bad and points to the disappearance of human rights activist Itai Dzamara of Occupy Africa Unity Square.

Deputy Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said Harare is doing everything in its power to locate Dzamara.

Political temperatures have been on the rise in Zimbabwe, unemployment is estimated to be nearing 90 percent though the government officially puts it at 10 percent.

The recent threats that government will forcibly evict an estimated 5.5 million vendors from the streets have also stoked tensions in the country.

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