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Sapes report on Zimbabwe was objective, balanced

WE refer to the article by Munyaradzi Huni from the Fourth African Development Forum in Addis Ababa, “Anti-Zim report blasted”, (Herald, October 13).

According to

Huni the Zimbabwean delegation to the Forum was not aware of the report on Zimbabwe prior to its presentation at the conference.

We wish to point out that the final report had been submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to the Addis Ababa meeting.

The report was one of 28 country studies commissioned by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca), meant to measure and monitor “Progress towards Good Governance in Africa”, and was compiled by the Southern Africa Political and Economic Series (Sapes) Trust.

Huni alleges that the (Zimbabwe) government had no input into the report.

The research team for the report include both Zimbabweans and other academics from the region, as Sapes is a regional organisation. The final editing was done by Dr Ibbo Mandaza.

Government ministries consulted during the compilation of the report include Public Service, Lands and Agriculture, Local Government, Finance and Economic Development, Foreign Affairs, Defence, Home Affairs, Education, Sports and Culture, National Affairs and Employment Creation and Health and Child Welfare.

The methodology and guidelines provided by Uneca called for participation in the research process of both government and civil society and Sapes adhered strictly to the methodology in compiling the report.

The guidelines specifically emphasised that participation should be identified from:

*Government (Finance and Planning, Public Service, Local Government, auditors general, central bank governors, Justice ministries/judiciary, Anti-Corruption heads;

* African parliamentarians;

* Academia;

* NGOs;

* Private sector;

* Gender, Information Technologies and HIV/Aids groups;

* Media;

* Intergovernmental institutions, and

* Non-sponsored stakeholders.

Throughout the research process, regular sub-regional meetings and workshops were held to monitor progress and ensure that the methodology was being followed since the country reports would eventually be amalgamated into a continental report.

One such sub-regional meeting was held in Lusaka from November 24-26 2003, at which Dr Mandaza presented the major findings of the study. The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare (Paul Mangwana) was present at this meeting. Uneca issued a press release prior to the meeting.

The Zimbabwe study was launched on October 9 2002 at a public workshop held at a Harare hotel.

The opening speech was written by Patrick Chinamasa and presented on his behalf by David Mangota, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

Various other representatives from both local and central government were present. A list of government officials who were members of the expert panel to be consulted during the course of the study is available from Sapes. It is too long to be reproduced here.

Finally, it must be noted that Sapes Trust is not aware of who presented the report at the meeting in Addis Ababa. Dr Mandaza was unable to attend personally due to his commitments at the Zimbabwe Mirror.

Jennifer Chiriga, co-ordinator of the research project, had been nominated to attend. However, she arrived at the airport to find that her ticket had not been paid for by the ECA.

If Sapes had been represented at the meeting, the misunderstandings presented in the Herald report would have been resolved therein.

The Zimbabwe report is objective and balanced as reflected in the following passage from the conclusion.

“Africans should develop their own paradigm on the basis of which to contextualise and lend meaning to such apparently universal idioms as democracy, good governance or even human rights. The debate cannot lead anywhere unless we seek also to escape the Euro-centric and Rustovian conception of society.

“The discussion has to be centred on a clear acknowledgement of the historical and socio-economic factors around which contemporary Africa is defined, and therefore the means through which the motherland can liberate and find herself.”

The Sapes Trust is an intellectual forum and centre of academic excellence for policy analysis and enhancing decision making capacity in the southern African region, both at national and regional levels.

The Trust promotes the development of an autonomous indigenous capacity for intellectual and scholarly discourse. The Trust has been in existence since 1987.

It has been involved in producing high quality reports and consultancies, including the Regional Human Development Report and has a vigorous publications programme. Many of its books are required reading for university courses throughout the continent and the world at large.


Sapes Trust regional office.

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