The United States is warning Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party not to renege on the power sharing agreement with the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Washington reportedly says it has in place a new batch of targeted sanctions ready to be imposed if President Mugabe and his supporters fail to abide by the recently signed power sharing agreement with the opposition. This follows reported impasse between the ruling party and the opposition over cabinet posts after both sides signed a power sharing agreement last week to form a unity government aimed at resolving the country's economic crisis.
George Mkwananzi is the deputy chairperson of the National Constitution Assembly. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from South Africa's capital, Pretoria, that President Mugabe should not be allowed to toy with the power-sharing agreement with the opposition.
"I think every level of pressure would be welcome if it is exerted on the Mugabe regime in order to quickly and immediately put to an end the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. The Mugabe regime would need that kind of pressurization, and the US is not wrong in taking such a move as far as I'm concerned," Mkwananzi noted.
He said the US targeted sanctions would be a political tool for partisans of the ruling ZANU-PF against the opposition MDC.
"Obviously they (ZANU-PF) would jump at that and use the threat as further evidence that the MDC is a puppet of the West and that they are pushing the cause of the West and so on. All those accusations would be heaped upon the MDC, but what is important is that no matter what Mugabe says or what ZANU-PF says we know that it's a move that is likely to benefit the people of Zimbabwe because at this juncture what we need to see is an acceleration of the processes and the confusion of that government of national unity particularly the equitable distribution of ministries that are of consequences," he said.
Mkwananzi said some Zimbabweans are expressing concerns about the power-haring agreement after the mediator and South African President Thabo Mbeki steps down this week.
"What has befallen Thabo Mbeki as the mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis is likely to send some signals that would cause the people of Zimbabwe to panic. However, it always depends on the party the ANC (ruling African National Convention) whether it would like Thabo Mbeki to continue playing his role and duty on the international scene. And it also depends on the SADC (Southern African Development Community) the people who have mandated him in the first place to do the mediation in Zimbabwe. Otherwise, if they replace him we believe that they would replace him with somebody who is also knowledgeable or sufficiently possesses enough information about the goings on in Zimbabwe. And would not force the talks to start afresh as it were," Mkwananzi pointed out.
US assistant secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said Washington was closely watching the impasse on cabinet posts since Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing deal last week.
Frazer added that the State Department and other US government agencies were making plans to step up assistance programs at the appropriate time and send in teams of experts to help rebuild Zimbabwe's shattered economy.