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Opinion: US can help solve Zimbabwe problem

Hillary Clinton should appoint a roving ambassador to concentrate on Zimbabwe.

Nevertheless, Secretary Clinton’s voice is strong and true, and widely influential in key capitals in Africa. She should urgently declare Washington’s desire to help to make the unity government in Zimbabwe work by meeting with Zuma and the heads of state and government of the SADC region.

She should appoint a strong roving ambassador to be her agent within southern Africa for as long as it takes to create an effective partnership government within Zimbabwe and to reduce Mugabe’s despotic grip. Her enunciated goal should be the end of violence and human rights abuses, the transfer of effective power to Prime Minister Tsvangirai, and a rapid diminution of Mugabe's presidential authoritarianism.

The appointment of a roving ambassador would demonstrate Washington’s commitment to the southern Africa and her desire to persuade South Africa and the other nations of the region that the U. S. is serious about achieving improvements to the regime in Zimbabwe.

A roving ambassador would provide the kind of close attention to the issue that Carson, with so many other African concerns, and the individual ambassadors in the region, cannot.

Washington holds carrots and sticks to support such an ambassadorial approach. If and when Zimbabwe is better governed, existing “smart” sanctions against Mugabe’s henchmen and their relatives can slowly be lifted. Additional incentives would include new funds with which to jump start the faltering Zimbabwean economy.

Washington can encourage SADC to ban official aircraft carrying Mugabe and his entourages from crossing neighboring airspace, thus ending his and his wife’s penchant for shopping trips to Dubai, Hong Kong (where they own expensive property), Kuala Lumpur, Singapore (where Zimbabwean diamonds are allegedly converted into property), Rome, Copenhagen, and so on.

With a little persuasion of South Africa, Namibia, and Mozambique, Washington could confine Mugabe to Zimbabwe and deny him medical treatment in South Africa or beyond. A roving ambassador with Secretary Clinton’s stamp could make these cases, and demonstrate finally that the U. S. cares.