HomePoliticsGPA Delays, Lack of Aid Could Take Sterp Back

GPA Delays, Lack of Aid Could Take Sterp Back

THE government should fully implement the terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) if the new economic recovery programme unveiled last week by President Robert Mugabe is to succeed, political and economic analysts have said.

 

The analysts said the GPA was the launch pad of the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (Sterp) which sets out the agenda government should pursue to attract regional and international financial backing desperately needed for the recovery programme.

Launching Sterp last Thursday, Mugabe begged for financial and technical aid for Zimbabwe to extricate the country from the decade-long economic meltdown.

Investor-unfriendly economic indicators and deteriorating living standards are but some of the challenges that confront Mugabe and his co-captains in the new government — Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputies Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe.

Mugabe’s plea for aid will not be spared the litmus test of inspiring investor confidence.

Analysts contend that in as much as Mugabe wants to stay on in anticipation of an election after expiry of the power-sharing pact, he has to deliver in the interim or at least show commitment to the recovery process.

Notwithstanding this, there are signs that Sterp might be a stillborn if party politics come into play.
“The inclusive government faces the challenges of collapse and decay and the poverty and suffering of our people. We either wallow in the wish wash of disempowering party politics or choose Sterp and make a bold step away from mundane,” the Sterp document says.

Apart from this, government fears that sanctions against Zimbabwe could be another impediment.
The Sterp document added: “It is recognised that some measures against Zimbabwe are in respect of omissions and commissions arising from various bilateral agreements and instruments, eg the Cotonou agreement with the European Union (EU).

“In this regard discussions have already started with the EU, European Commission, World Bank, IMF and the African Development Bank with the objective of removing above sanctions and measures in compliance with Article 4.6 (C) of the GPA. As far as the USA is concerned, it is imperative that the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) be repealed and representations and consultations have begun in this respect.”

The Cotonou Agreement is aimed at the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty while contributing to sustainable development and to the gradual integration of ACP countries into the world economy.

The revised Cotonou Agreement is also concerned with the fight against impunity and promotion of criminal justice through the International Criminal Court.

Sterp prioritises three key areas: the constitution and constitution-making process, social protection and stabilisation.

Civic organisations for years have been calling for a people-driven supreme law and only time will tell whether the so-called Kariba draft will meet this expectation.

Changes relating to media diversity and freedom and “strengthening governance and accountability” have to be made despite Sterp not spelling out when and how these changes will be effected.

This test will determine whether Sterp will be a step forward or backward. What is guaranteed though is that the economic recovery plan will be a subject of academic discourse well after its tenure.

Currently operating with no privately owned national daily and state-controlled ZBC being the Hobson’s choice, the government still has more media licences to sign before democratic space is widened.

A handful of potential players have already shown commitment in establishing newspapers, creating hope for jobless scribes and other prospective beneficiaries.

The government also envisages formulating a sound social protection policy after past policies exposed the elderly and other vulnerable citizens to the harsh economic meltdown characterised by worthless local currency and diminishing savings.

Lastly, government wishes to stabilise the comatose economy through various measures seeking to boost agricultural, mining and manufacturing sectors.

Noble and pragmatic, some of the measures might appear, but the US$5 billion recovery plan will not succeed unless funds are injected into the treasury.

University of Kent at Canterbury senior lecturer of law Alex Magaisa argues that delays by the Sadc and African Union in extending lines of credit to Zimbabwe could stall Europe’s commitment to bailing out the debt-ridden government.

“The trouble of course is that the success of Sterp depends not simply on what we can do (and there is much that we must do) but more importantly, resource-wise, it is far too dependent on external support, which may or may not come,” Magaisa warned.

“So far I am disappointed that Sadc and the international community are beginning to play that old dirty game which in Shona we refer to as ‘kukandirana nyoka mhenyu’ — no one wants to hold the snake in his hands so they are now throwing it around, disowning it. Zimbabwe is that snake and no one wants it close by, yet all along they were promising many incentives and assistance to Zimbabwe. Sadc needs to step up to the plate and fulfil its promises.

The AU also needs to do the same — only then can the West and others be persuaded that this is a creature worth saving.”

Commenting on the reported cases of new farm invasions targeting white commercial farmers, Magaisa said: “Government has to show that it is in control; that this behaviour cannot be tolerated any longer. The farm invasions must be stopped… The ball is in our court and we must play it right.”

He argued government should release all political prisoners languishing in remand prisons.

Tsvangirai, Mugabe and Mutambara met soon after the formation of the unity government and agreed on the release of the political prisoners on bail.

Most of the political detainees, among them rights activist Jestina Mukoko and deputy minister of agriculture-designate Roy Bennett, have been freed on bail.

“The fundamental approach must be that the government adheres to the rule of law by upholding rights of individuals. It must actively engage the international community and the diaspora,” said the UK-based lawyer.

Government has since Independence propounded more than 10 growth- related documents that have failed to stimulate the economy due to various reasons.

The World Bank-approved Economic Structural Adjustment Programme of 1991 failed to slash the central government deficit to 5% from 10%. Critics were quick to blast the structural programme for lacking “home-grown” measures.

BY BERNARD MPOFU

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