Clinton meets Mandela, snubs Mugabe

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JOHANNESBURG – US secretary of State Hillary Clinton has snubbed
President Robert Mugabe as Harare does not feature on her on-going visit
to southern Africa.

Clinton dined with Nelson Mandela on Monday
at his rural homestead in Qunu, Eastern Cape on Monday. She arrived in
South Africa on Sunday from Malawi where she offered praise to President
Joice Banda and pledged continued American support to the impoverished
southern African nation.

Clinton flew to Malawi from Kenya, and
had earlier visited Senegal, Uganda and South Sudan — all seen as East
Africa’s model democracies.

Clinton’s visit provides a good glimpse into the future of US’s strategic relationship with Africa.

Her carefully crafted schedule ensured that no opening is left which will invite a partisan attack in Washington.

She has broadly called for more aid to countries she visited and applauded positive developments there.

Clinton’s
snub of Mugabe during the 11-day tour of Africa has confirmed
Washington’s consistent policy of alienating the 88-year-old strongman
who has shown little commitment for partnership with the US and its
interest in promoting human rights in Africa.

Diplomats believe
the countries included in the official visit can be used as a bar for
measuring the strategic weight of the country concerned to American
interests.

While Clinton was meeting Mandela, a US business
delegation was holding trade talks with SA executives in Johannesburg,
with the delegation comprising senior executives from Black &
Veatch, Boeing, Chevron, EMD/Caterpillar, FedEx Express, GE, Symbion,
Trimble, Wal-Mart and Zanbato.

A possible trip to Zimbabwe would have garnered a fitting story to what Clinton wanted to highlight.

Zimbabwe
presents a case for how a responsible government can best take
advantage of Western commitment to a national effort of eradication of
poverty and diseases.

Zimbabwe’s economy is recovering after a decade of economic meltdown blamed on strongman Mugabe.

But it remains the only country struggling to entrench democracy in southern Africa.

Clinton met Mugabe’s counterparts in the two Sadc countries she visited.

Critics
say for whatever reason Clinton decided not to visit Zimbabwe, she
indeed missed a good, positive and uplifting story from the southern
African country; that of a people determined to draw a line in the sand
and focus on reconstructing an economic giant devastated by a decade of
economic mismanagement blamed on Mugabe’s rule.

Currently in
South Africa, Clinton is expected to meet President Zuma after her
highly publicised private lunch meeting with Mandela and his wife Graca.

After
the South Africa visit, Clinton heads for Nigeria on Thursday, where
she plans to hold meetings with President Goodluck Jonathan and other
officials.

She will proceed to Benin before wrapping up her
itinerary with a stop in Ghana where she will attend the state funeral
of late president John Atta Mills, before heading to Istanbul for talks
on the festering crisis in Syria, where mediator Kofi Annan has just
thrown in the towel amid mass murder by the “terrorist regime” of Bashar
al-Assad regime.

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