THE inclusive government must move urgently and boldly to implement those key provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that have a bearing on the successful implementation of the Short Term Economic Recovery Programme (Sterp).
Members of that government should not be overwhelmed by the â€œfeel goodâ€ sense derived from the major political partiesâ€™ newly found collaboration, as evidenced by the recent stakeholder meetings and theÂ retreat held at the Victoria Falls.
This government was formed with two major purposes in mind. The first was to immediately stop the haemorrhaging of the Zimbabwean economy and put it on the road to recovery, and thereby alleviate the suffering of its people.
The second was to draft a new constitution, submit it to public debate, conduct a national referendum on it, and hold free and fair elections to enable Zimbabweans to elect a government of their own choice.
Clearly the writing of a new constitution will be a rather futile exercise, unless economic recovery is achieved.
This makes Zimbabweâ€™s economic recovery the inclusive governmentâ€™s raison dâ€™Ãªtre. Should it fail to achieve that objective, the inclusive government will become irrelevant and collapse.
A reality check is therefore in order at this point.
Three major points emerged from the Sadc summit held in Swaziland recently to consider assistance for Zimbabweâ€™s efforts to jumpstart its comatose economy. The first is that the grouping gave their approval to Zimbabweâ€™s US$8,5 billion budget for the next two years; in fact they are reported to have upped it to US$10 billion.
Secondly they agreed to actively campaign for the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the EU and the USA.
The final and most significant point is that only South Africa, out of all the 14 Sadc countries, actually pledged material assistance at the summit. The regional economic powerhouse committed US$30 million over a three-month period, with more to follow.
There is no doubt that South Africa will follow up on its pledge. However it is difficult to imagine that any of the other Sadc countries, perhaps with the exception of Botswana, will be able to match, let alone surpass, South Africaâ€™s contribution.
In the case of the more capable economies of South Africa and Botswana, the current global financial crisis is the major constraint. But for the rest of the countries in the region, their own poverty, abject in some instances, will simply make it impossible for them to spare anything for their crisis-stricken neighbour.
This means that as unlimited as Sadcâ€™s moral support for Zimbabwe might be, the group can provide only a very limited portion of the external assistance that Zimbabwe requires at this stage. Hence Sadcâ€™s emphasis on the lifting of sanctions and other restrictive measures imposed on Zimbabwe by the USA, EU and the multi-lateral lending institutions.
The key point here is that the external financial assistance that we require cannot come from Sadc. It has to come from elsewhere.
I believe, with others, that our long-term development strategy should be premised on adding value to our own local resources, rather than on external aid. However, there is no question that before we can fully exploit our abundant natural resources, we need some bridging finance, which, at the moment, is only externally available.
To the extent that we believe that such external assistance can, or should, come from the West, and to the extent that we believe that our current economic turmoil is attributable to sanctions imposed by the West, we need to pay close attention to what the West has said in the past, and what it says now, about development aid in general and the Zimbabwe sanctions in particular.
We also need to note that most Western governments prefer to extend development aid to Africa at the bi-lateral level.
The Westâ€™s most succinct policy statement on development aid for Africa was made at the G8 summit held at Kananaskis in Canada in June 2002, when, in response to Nepadâ€™s request for development aid, the group referred to Nepadâ€™s â€œpeer review mechanismâ€.
The Africa Action Plan, put together by the G8, was very unequivocal on economic assistance:
â€œThey (the African leaders) have emphasised good governance and human rights as necessary preconditions for Africaâ€™s recovery â€¦we (the rich nations) each undertake to establish enhanced partnerships with African countries whose performance reflects Nepad commitments. Our partners will be selected on the basis of measured results.
â€œThe peer review process will inform our considerations of eligibility for enhanced partnerships. We will each make our own assessments in making these partnership decisionsâ€¦ We will not work with governments which disregard the interests and the dignity of their people.â€
In this regard comments made last week by the German Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Dr Albert Conze, are very instructive.
Speaking at one of the stakeholders consultative meetings that have just been held, the ambassador alluded to a meeting held on March 20 by a group of â€œlike-mindedâ€ countries that brought together literally the whole globeâ€™s economic powerhouses, outside China, and also all the major international lending institutions, including the IMF, WB, and the ADB.
Dr Conze told the stakeholders that the meeting agreed to work with the transitional government to achieve specific goals identified in the GPA, notably the restoration of the rule of law, economic stability and growth, freedom of assembly and commitment to democratic process, respect for human rights and personal security, and full access to humanitarian assistance.
As pointed out by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and others, Zimbabwe has already started working on all of these. Moreover, some of them, like â€œeconomic stability and growthâ€ are unachievable until the very assistance that the West is withholding becomes available.
However, the important point is that the group commended the reform efforts undertaken by the transitional government and progress achieved to date. They also noted that the government deserves full support and agreed to work with it to achieve specific goals identified in the GPA.
It is of monumental significance that the conditions that we have to meet for the full resumption of Western development assistance, are, in essence, objectives that the inclusive government has already set for itself in the GPA â€” any subtle nuances and difference of interpretation notwithstanding.
As was the case with Nepad, the group of â€œlike-mindedâ€ countries is insisting that the parties constituting the transitional government meet the commitments they made to themselves and to the Zimbabwean people in the GPA.
The fact that the group agreed to work with Sadc and the AU â€œto monitor and encourage swift and effective implementation of the GPAâ€, before they will â€œwork with international finance institutions to develop an appropriate framework for re-engagementâ€, signals the fact that, in their thinking, the processes we have initiated have not yet reached the requisite threshold to trigger their cooperation.
Because it is us who need the groupâ€™s assistance, and not vice-versa, our options are very limited, and we have to exercise them very fast. We either look at how we can achieve that threshold in the shortest possible time, or we look elsewhere for the external assistance that we so badly need.
Zimbabweans should also note that a comprehensive and credible implementation of the key aspects of the GPA is necessary, not only for meeting the conditions set by the West for extending financial assistance.
It is also necessary for the achievement of the national cohesion and the unity of purpose that we badly need now. We need national cohesion and unity of purpose just as badly as we need the external financial assistance.
Tsvangirai made exactly that point in his address to the ministerial retreat in Vic Falls on Friday:
â€œThe other key benchmark that will inspire confidence, not just amongst donors but amongst Zimbabweans as a whole, is evidence that all the parties are adhering to the GPA.
â€œThis entails clear evidence that we are bound and guided by the GPA and that there is no faction-ridden parallel process that serves to perpetrate the culture of entitlement and impunity,â€ he said.
The Prime Minister went on to list what he referred to as â€œthe outstanding issuesâ€, which he said still have to be resolved by the president, vice presidents, the prime minister and the deputy prime ministers.
It is probably such processes that the West will monitor closely, and on the basis of which they will make their decisions on whether or not to lift sanctions and to extend development aid. Â
Dr Mazombwe, a local academic, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BY OBEDIAH MAZOMBWE