Sat, Aug 08, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Clinton pressures South Africa about ties with Mugabe


US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton encouraged South Africa yesterday to use its influence to bolster reforms in Zimbabwe and said closer ties would be built with Pretoria after strains under the administration of former US president George W. Bush.

Before meeting South Africa’s foreign minister yesterday, Clinton said she would urge the new government to get Zimbabwe to raise the pace of political reform, which has been too slow for donors to release substantial amounts of aid.

“There is no need for promises. South Africa is very aware of the challenges posed by the political crisis in Zimbabwe because South Africa has 3 million refugees from Zimbabwe,” Clinton told a news conference after meeting International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

“And every one of those refugees represents a failure of the Zimbabwean government to care for its own people and a burden that South Africa has to bear,” she said.

The US, troubled by what it sees as an absence of reform in Zimbabwe, has no plans either to offer major aid or to lift sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and some of his supporters.

Before any of those things can happen, Washington wants more evidence of political, social and economic reforms by Mugabe and the government he shares uneasily with opposition leader and now Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Clinton did not say what specific reforms Washington wanted in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe, in power since independence from the UK in 1980, is blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into economic ruin. He argues that his country’s economic woes, which include hyperinflation and a collapsed infrastructure, are caused by sanctions.

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