US blasts SADC Summit on Zimbabwe

Washington – The US said on Monday it is "very disappointed" at the outcome of a summit to carry out a power-sharing deal between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Wood told reporters that a proposal at a summit of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) only served to reinforce Mugabe’s grip on power.

Wood said the US government is "very disappointed by the outcome of the discussions on Zimbabwe at the SADC summit" in Johannesburg.

"This proposal that was put forth to share the home affairs ministry, to us, is just another example of the Mugabe regime’s attempt to subvert the will of the Zimbabwean people," Wood said.

Under the unity accord signed on September 15 in Harare, 84-year-old Mugabe would remain as president while his Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, would become prime minister.

However, the long-awaited deal has stagnated over the share out of key ministries, particularly the home affairs ministry which runs the police.

The SADC has proposed co-sharing the home affairs ministry between the ruling Zanu-PF and Tsvangirai’s MDC as a way out of the deadlock, at least for a trial period of six months.

Power sharing

But Tsvangirai, who defeated Mugabe in the first-round of the presidential election in March, rejected their proposal as unworkable.

Asked if he believed Tsvangirai was cooperating, Wood replied: "I think you can understand his position right now.

"This is supposed to be power sharing. This example of trying to share the home affairs ministry … doesn’t reflect the will of what the Zimbabweans voted for," Wood said.

"What we want to see is true, substantive power-sharing negotiations so that they can agree on a cabinet so that Zimbabweans can feel they have a future," the deputy spokesperson added.

Asked if it was time for more sanctions against Harare, Wood replied: "I’m not going to say it’s time at this point.

"We obviously want to have further discussions with our partners and see if that is a route we want to pursue," he said.

"But if he (Mugabe) continues to subvert the will of the people, then we will have to look at additional measures," he added. – AFP