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OUTGOING United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, has said there is nothing wrong with regime change in Zimbabwe, saying it is necessary for political parties to renew themselves and come up with new ideas.
“Regime change after every four years it’s a good thing,” Wharton told journalists in Harare earlier this week.
“We practise this after every four years and at least in my country (the US); the idea that nobody stays in power for more than 8 years is a good thing.
“We need a renewal of ideas.”
The US maintains sanctions against Zimbabwe, accusing President Robert Mugabe of electoral fraud and human rights abuses.
The Zanu PF strongman denies the charges, insisting the West wants to remove him from power as punishment for his land reforms.
Mugabe also accuses the US of funding opposition parties and NGOs critical of his government as part of the regime change agenda.
Wharton however, said Washington does not support political parties and is not interested in the person who becomes Zimbabwe’s leader, but how the individual assumes power.
Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have been in power for 35 years, winning regular elections but the opposition says the ruling party uses violence and poll rigging to retain power.
“The sole issue of regime change, this is a term I have never used,” said Wharton.
“I would like to say, we do not support political parties or personalities in Zimbabwe we support processes as a matter of principal.
“What matters to us is not who is the president or leader of Zimbabwe, but how does that person come to power; is the process transparent, and was the process credible.
“It’s up to the people of Zimbabwe to choose who to leads them.
“Our concern in Zimbabwe is that this has been not been clear; the people of Zimbabwe have not been given a credible chance to do that.”
He said the US understood that a political party cannot “really renew its self while in power. It cannot come up with new ideas”.
Ambassador Wharton leaves Harare to up a new responsibility as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs.
He however said Zimbabwe “can and should be a nation of economic opportunities, of respect for the rule of law and the human rights”.
The envoy was confident about Zimbabwe’s economic prospects despite continuing U.S. concerns about human rights and the rule of law.
“We do recognize improvements in the human rights situation in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Thank goodness the elections of 2013 were peaceful; it’s a huge step forward and we are willing to give Zimbabwe credit on those improvements.
“But then you get a case like Itai Dzamara which makes everybody remember again how tough things were during the elections of 2002 and 2008 and Murambatsvina in 2005.”
Wharton promised not to turn his back on Zimbabwe as he assumes a new post with direct responsibility over United States missions in sub-Saharan Africa.
“I can’t just turn my back and forget this country.
“But I will make a conscious effort to pull away from Zimbabwe in order to give my successor time and space to come and meet various Zimbabweans of all walks of life (and make up) his own opinion,” he said. source-newzimbabwe