AFRICANGLOBE – Calls by US President Barack Obama for real reforms in Zimbabwe ahead of elections have angered ZANU PF, with party loyalists accusing the American leader of ‘meddling’ and ‘insulting’ Africans.
Obama made the remarks while in South Africa over the weekend, as part of his official tour of African nations. He told reporters that bad governance in Zimbabwe was responsible for the country’s problems, including the destruction of the economy.
“If you look at Zimbabwe, it used to be one of the wealthiest countries on the continent. And that governance has led to an economic disaster. It’s now starting to come back. And thanks to the work of people like President (Jacob) Zuma, there’s an opportunity now to move into a new phase where perhaps Zimbabwe can finally achieve all its promise. But that requires fair and free elections, and it requires those currently in power in Zimbabwe to recognise that the interest of all people have to be served there,” Obama said.
ZANU PF has reacted with anger, which could clearly be seen in an editorial in the Herald newspaper on Monday. The newspaper criticised Obama for “abusing his visit to South Africa to meddle in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.” The paper also quoted a number of analysts like Jonathan Moyo, Charity Manyeruke and war vets leader Jabulani Sibanda, who offered their criticisms.
Sibanda was quoted as saying that Zimbabwe is a sovereign nation “governed by its laws not the opinions of foreigners,” and the country “doesn’t want interference from foreigners.” Moyo meanwhile described Obama’s statements as “insults to Zimbabweans and progressive South Africans.” Manyeruke was also scathing, saying Obama “wants to see Zimbabwe turn into another Somalia so that the Americans can come in and plunder the country’s resources.”
Political analyst Clifford Mashiri said Obama’s comments are welcome, and reflect the widespread concerns of Zimbabwean civil society and citizens. He said the ZANU PF reaction is unsurprising.
“It is expected that ZANU PF would react in a nasty and hostile way. This is how they always react when they are being told things they do not want to hear,” Mashiri barked.
By: Alex Bell