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Analyst Says President-Elect Obama Could Spur Zimbabwe Peace Effort


One of the African issues to face the President-elect Barack Obama is the worsening economic, humanitarian and political situation in Zimbabwe. Some analysts say he is uniquely positioned to help Zimbabwe get back on track.

Others feel President Robert Mugabe will continue to pursue the same policies regardless of who is in the White House.

John Makumbe, professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe, says an Obama presidency will put the country back on track.

"We were celebrating yesterday and they are still at it, some of them they are hoping Barack Obama will be firmer with Robert Mugabe in terms of getting him to do the right thing," he said. "Barack Obama is expected to be allergic to dictators, particularly in Africa, and the people of Zimbabwe are hoping that he will push harder than George Bush was doing to get rid of Robert Mugabe from the seat of power in Zimbabwe."

Makumbe says Mr. Obama has the potential to make a significant positive impact in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.

"I think he will have more political clout being an African American; he has a very powerful platform to stand on…. The African Union…will take very seriously what one of their own sons would say and so Barack Obama would have the ear of most African leaders and if he would be saying the situation in Zimbabwe is untenable, it's embarrassing to Africa, it's embarrassing to African Americans, it's embarrassing to mankind - they will take that seriously, yes," he said.

The political science professor says Mr. Obama will probably implement the same policies as President Bush.

"With two wars in Iraq, there is precious little [he would do] because I don't think even Barack Obama would open another military front, least of all in Africa, but I think there will be an intensification of sanctions against the Robert Mugabe regime," he said. "I think there will be more diplomatic effort to get not just the SADC countries, but also the Africa Union, to apply pressure on Robert Mugabe to do the right thing."