Friday, August 19, 2005

International Crisis Group on Zimbabwe

Marvellous report. Very worth a read. Take note in particular their recommandations taken directly from the above website below. Personal comments prefaced by a >.


To pursue constructive change through regional diplomacy:

1. South Africa should work with Nigeria and other African states, if possible through the African Union's Peace and Security Council and with the support of other African institutions, to establish a mission of distinguished former African presidents to explore with President Mugabe, ZANU-PF, the MDC and other political forces in Zimbabwe a political transition strategy, which might involve a dignified option for withdrawal of President Mugabe from an active political role, creation of a credible government of national unity, a period for new or revised political groupings to form and, ultimately, properly internationally supervised elections.

> It sounds terribly good on paper but runs into immediate political problems. The African Union (AU) is generally embarassed by Zimbabwe's Mugabe BUT South Africa has consistantly shown their support for Mugabe's party to the point to 'recognising' the 'validity' of their elections (rigged and more than tinged with outright threats and use of starvation as a political tool). The oddest remark that was made by South Africa was how the International Community was focusing on Zimbabwe but ignoring other nations. Talk about trying to change the subject.

And lest we forget, Mugabe has tremendous anti-colonisation/Independence credencials having fought successfully against the colonial powers. This brought him to power and leaders in other African nations have not forgotten this. Not to mention there still remains this fear that opposing Mugabe might allow him to portray them as the new puppets to the neo-colonialist West.

Furthermore, it's not as if there isn't an opposition force that has been trying more than valiantly at the risk of beatings or worse in an attempt to win power via the ballot box. So I find it next to impossible to see how it might even be a viable solution to try to reach a settlement by sitting all the parties down in an attempt to find a political compromise. Especially when there has been a systemic corruption of the political institutions and the disruption and destruction of civil society. Mugabe has turned his iron fist on opposition supporters in towns and has destroyed their homes and deprived them of shelter in an attempt to further consolidate his power. I simply don't see him stepping down anytime soon.

Having said that, however, the US did manage to solve the North-South problem in Sudan (which resulted in the East-West problem but at least it's a different problem). There needs to be a credible threat and as long as the US is too busy and the AU to weak without South Africa that's going to be a pipe-dream.

2. The Zimbabwe government, ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) should adopt open and constructive attitudes to efforts by South Africa, Nigeria, other African states and African institutions to mediate an end to the national political stalemate.

> *Snigger* well duh, talk about empty platitutes. The MDC is more than keen to cooperate but the ZANU-PF?

3. South Africa should also apply conditionality concerning at least economic reform to the credit line it proposes to extend to Zimbabwe and require a monitoring mechanism so it can assure itself that the conditions are being met and the money is being used for the intended purposes.

> Good one, it's not as if withdrawing that aid is going to suddenly improverish the people seeing as how aid is manipulated by the government for political ends where and when it's not simply stolen outright.

4. The United States, the European Union and its Member States, the members of the UN Security Council, and the wider international community should support the efforts of South Africa, other African states and African institutions to conduct meaningful regional diplomacy with Zimbabwe, including efforts to pursue political mediation such as that outlined in recommendation 1 above.

> Agreed. This is already happening but the US already has its platter full with the War on Terror and Sudan. And the EU?'s the EU after all...

To build political capacity:

5. South Africa and other African states, African institutions, the United States, the European Union and its Member States, and other interested members of the international community should engage in stepped up programs of assistance to democratic forces with a view to developing over time a stronger civil society, a more democratic polity and a generally more effective political class.

> Yup! Absolutely! And since Zimbabwe doesn't qualify for the latest rounds of G8 debt relief, it offers the opportunity of tying that to democratisation. See here for further thoughs.

6. Zimbabwe civil society should seek the unity and regeneration of the pro-democracy movement, including by supporting elections for the leadership of the opposition at the earliest possible time.

> Well yes, but how one could legitimately ask. When starvation is used as a political tool i.e. not accepting more food aid and parcelling what's available to supporters, people in a desparate attempt to survive do end up supporting the ZANU-PF. It's going to take a very long time and in the short run, one could see all sorts of awful possibilities including the fact that a free and fair elections could benefit ZANU-PF the ruling party on the simple basis that they are the best organised. All there need to do really is to make a show of reform and people have a disturbing tendancy to buy that. This has been an unfortunate result of democratisation in certain sub-Saharan and Ex-Communist Central Asian states.

To maintain international pressure for constructive change:

7. The United States, the European Union and its Member States, the members of the UN Security Council, and the wider international community should:

(a) expand targeted sanctions such as visa refusals and asset freezes against senior government and ruling party figures and implement them more rigorously until there is meaningful progress on human rights and political reform;

> Didn't help in Myanmar...but then again, if the AU chips in, we don't have a situation like here where ASEAN provides them with a lifeline.

(b) encourage independent expert investigations, including by special rapporteurs, of allegations of serious human rights abuse, such as misuse of food aid for political purposes and torture of detained political opponents, with a view to pursuing remedial measures in the appropriate international forums; and

> We already know how bad the situation is, in fact when genocide occured in Sudan, every other nation except for the US refused to call a spade a spade.

(c) give no developmental assistance until there has been some meaningful progress toward political and economic reform, and then only upon the condition that specific further benchmarks are met.

> Why not? It's not as if the aid is helping the people anyway.



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