Zimbabwe deal will not work with Mugabe - envoy


Zimbabwe's stalled power-sharing deal will not work as long as Robert Mugabe is president, a US envoy said today.

"We think he has reneged on the principle of power sharing," US assistant secretary of state Jendayi Frazer told reporters in Pretoria.

Mr Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed on September 15th to form a unity government, a pact supported at the time by the United States.

But the agreement has been unravelling due to a fight over control of important ministries and Zimbabwe has sunk deeper into crisis. Hyper-inflation means prices double every day and a cholera epidemic has killed more than 1,100 people.

Western nations, Zimbabwe's neighbours and investors had hoped a unity government with Mr Tsvangirai as prime minister would wrest enough control from Mugabe to reverse policies they blame for Zimbabwe's economic meltdown, and avert total collapse.

"Today we know better," Ms Frazer said, adding she had been sent by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to explain the US shift in policy to other southern African countries.

Ms Frazer said she had urged Zimbabwe's neighbours to step up pressure on Mugabe. But regional power South Africa said on Sunday it believed the unity deal represented Zimbabwe's best hope for change.

Ms Frazer cited abductions of MDC supporters, the spiralling cholera epidemic - which Mugabe has blamed on his western foes - and the veteran leader's moves to unilaterally take control of important ministries.

She said Mr Mugabe was out of touch with reality and described him as a "man who's lost it".

Western leaders blame Mr Mugabe for turning the once promising economy into a country plagued by food and fuel shortages, and have intensified calls for him to step down. Ms Rice said earlier this month his departure was well overdue.

Mr Mugabe regularly rails against the West, saying western leaders are using cholera as an excuse to topple him and blaming economic sanctions for the meltdown.

He argues Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC are western puppets and has vowed "never to surrender" to attempts to oust him.