Unity Government Begins Implementing GPA terms

ZIMBABWE’S inclusive government has started implementing provisions of the global political agreement (GPA) signed last September by President Robert Mugabe and the leaders of the two MDC formations –– Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.


Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara formed the unity government on February 13 and the new administration immediately started to implement the accord. Yesterday government launched the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (Sterp) to start economic recovery and growth as outlined in the GPA.

Under the GPA, Zanu PF and the MDC formations set out the restoration of economic stability, removal of sanctions, the land question, restoration of the rule of law, media reform, the crafting of a new constitution and the promotion of national healing as the main priorities of the inclusive government.

The government has set up a Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee composed of both Zanu PF and MDC ministers to oversee the implementation of the GPA and receive complaints.

A National Economic Council –- comprising representatives from the manufacturing, agricultural, mining, tourism, labour, academic, commercial and financial sectors –– would soon be established to give advice to government and formulate economic plans and programmes.

Sterp, according to the government, was part of the implementation of the GPA and would address the issues of economic stabilisation and national healing while at the same time laying the foundation of a more comprehensive and “developmentalist” economic recovery.

The 11-month economic recovery programme is anchored on the need to promote production and increase capacity in key areas of the economy, in particular agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism.

“In short, Sterp is a capacity-based rehabilitation programme (CBRP) that seeks to stabilise all the macro and micro-economic fundamentals in Zimbabwe,” the recovery plan document says.

“The stabilisation component of Sterp will target inflation and will increase the savings stock of the country.”

On sanctions, the inclusive government has since appointed a committee made up of Finance minister Tendai Biti, Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Regional and International Integration minister Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, and Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube to lobby for their removal.

Since the disputed 2002 presidential elections, the United States, Britain and its European Union allies have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe that resulted in the country failing to access lines of credits and balance of payments from multilateral financial organisations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB).

Zimbabwe also owes the IMF US$89 million at the end of February, the World Bank US$600 million and the AfDB US$429 million.

Discussions, according to the government, have already started with the EU, European Commission, World Bank, IMF, and the AfDB with the objective of removing the sanctions in compliance with the provisions of the GPA.

“As far as the US is concerned, it is imperative that the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) be repealed and representations and consultations have already begun in this respect,” the economic recovery plan document says.

The US a fortnight ago extended the sanctions by another year.

On national healing, the government appointed a ministerial team that includes Gibson Sibanda, Sekai Holland and John Nkomo to spearhead the programme aimed at ensuring equal treatment of all regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and place of origin.

The national healing programme would be envisaged to strive to create an environment of tolerance and respect among Zimbabweans and that all citizens are treated with dignity and decency.

Government would formulate and put measures in place to attract the return of skilled Zimbabweans from the diaspora.

The inclusive government said it would embark on the crafting of a people-driven constitution in line with the GPA, which devoted 80% to human rights and democratic principles.

“It is trite that without a well-functioning economy, democracy and human rights are impossible and equally, without a well functioning democracy, economic development is not feasible,” says Sterp.

“Therefore, Sterp recognises the commitment of the inclusive government to the making of the new constitution as defined under Article 6 of GPA. This should be commenced as a matter of urgency.”

Government would soon set up a select committee of parliament that will spearhead the constitutional process, which includes public hearings and the convening of an all-stakeholders conference to discuss a draft constitution before a report is made to parliament.

The economic blueprint, like the GPA, recognised the importance of creating a vibrant and free media as an important part of democratising both public and private institutions.

The constitution should be in place in 18 months.

“This entails liberalising the air waves, freeing the media, and ensuring that plural voices are heard through both electronic and print media, consistent with Article 19 of the GPA,” the blueprint says.

Under the GPA, the inclusive government was tasked to ensure the immediate processing by relevant authorities of applications for re-registration of both print and electronic media houses in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act as well as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Government, according to the GPA, should take steps to ensure that the public media provide balanced and fair coverage to all political parties and that both public and private media should refrain from using abusive language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred or that unfairly undermines political parties and other organisations.

According to Sterp, legislation would be passed cementing the enjoyment of the rule of law, and the right to freedom of expression and association.

Under the GPA, Zanu PF and the two MDC formations agreed that it would be the duty of all political parties and individuals to respect and uphold the constitution and other laws of the land and adhere to the principles of the rule of the law.

The parties agreed to work together to guarantee the “implementation and realisation” of the right to freedom of association and assembly.

According to the GPA, government shall undertake training programmes, workshops and meetings for the police and other enforcement agencies directed at the appreciation of the right of freedom of assembly and association and the proper interpretation, understanding and application of the provisions of security legislation.

BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE

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