Posted by: africanpressorganization | 16 October 2009

Zimbabwé / U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing





Zimbabwé / U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing


WASHINGTON, October 16, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Robert Wood

Deputy Department Spokesman
Washington, DC

Taken questions


QUESTION: The Zimbabwean Government is prosecuting a would-be deputy minister, a guy named Roy Bennett, for treason despite the sort of nominal existence of a unity government there. Do you have any response to that?

MR. WOOD: Yeah. What I would say, Dave, is that we call on President Mugabe to implement the Global Political Agreement. This particular case with regard to Roy Bennett is, frankly, a blatant example of the absence of the rule of law in Zimbabwe, and frankly, is a transparent attempt to prevent Mr. Bennett from taking up his position as deputy secretary for agriculture.

So prosecution has never, as far as I know, presented any credible evidence against him. He’s complied with all of the court’s requirements, so – and Mugabe needs to end his harassment of the opposition, including Mr. Bennett.

QUESTION: Just – to stick with Zimbabwe?

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: The British Government today announced that it plans to give Zimbabwe a hundred million dollars in aid, notwithstanding what you described as the blatant absence of rule of law. What do you think of their decision?

MR. WOOD: Well, I mean, that’s a decision for the British Government. We’ve made very clear that we have some very serious concerns about the lack of democratic reforms in Zimbabwe and that we want to see changes on the ground before we can commit to supporting any type of development assistance program.

We will continue to provide assistance to the Zimbabwean people, but we’re certainly – in terms of our sanctions that are targeted against regime members – Mugabe regime members, we’re not going to in any way ease those sanctions until we see changes from that government. And we’re very concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe. And so we are not going to be able to make fundamental changes to our policies with regard to development assistance until we see real movement on the ground.

QUESTION: Just if I may, I’d like to read you the quote from the British ambassador —

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: — to Zimbabwe. “We thought the formation of the inclusive government was a significant step. The UK wants it to succeed. We are not holding back and will be supporting it to the tune of a hundred million dollars this year,” closed-quote. Do you think that – I mean, they seem to have come to a different conclusion. Their conclusion seems to be that the government is worthy of support and that giving it assistance may help it to succeed. Do you see any concern that by withholding development assistance, you may be undermining the government?

MR. WOOD: No, on the contrary. We have been very clear from the beginning, as you know, Arshad, about our views with regard to what needs to happen in Zimbabwe if we are to go forward with normal engagement on the development assistance side. Our primary concern is about the Zimbabwean people, and that’s why we continue to provide humanitarian assistance, that’s why we continue to call on the Mugabe regime to implement the necessary government reforms.

Look, at the time the unity government came into – was put in place, we certainly thought that that was a good thing, but we needed to see results and see where this government was going with regard to some of the concerns that we have. We still have a lot of those concerns, so as I said, we need to see more happen on the ground with regard to democratic and economic reform before we’re going to commit further.




US Department of State


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