LAST week, Elton Mangoma, Energy and Power Development minister, led a mission-impossible government delegation to the European Union (EU) as the country continued its endeavour to reengage the bloc, among other countries, in line with provisions of the global political agreement (GPA).
Mangoma’s delegation included Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa and Regional Integration and International Co-operation minister Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, representing the political parties that inked the GPA in September 2008.
To most observers this meeting was just procedural as nothing much was expected since the conditions which prompted the disengagement with the EU have not improved despite signing the GPA, and the subsequent formation of the inclusive government in February 2009.
It was predictable that the delegation, which left for Brussels, having covered no ground would return empty-handed, and any other result would have surprised many.
While we are not surprised by the result of the meeting last week, it is important to put the whole issue into perspective.
What Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative, said after meeting the delegation is as informative as it is reflective of what has to be done before anything substantial is realised.
“The EU appreciates some progress made in implementing the GPA in Zimbabwe and remains ready to continue the dialogue and to respond flexibly and positively to any clear signals of further concrete progress,” she said.
It beats logic that the Zimbabwean delegation expected anything substantial at a time when they had not moved much in implementing what they agreed on among themselves in the GPA.
A lame argument proffered by others is that the EU is wrong to say the implementation of the GPA is a prerequisite for lifting of sanctions which were imposed eight years ago.
This argument is illogical in that the EU, when demanding the full implementation of the GPA, has realised that the total consummation of the pact converges with its own conditions for lifting of sanctions.
The EU sanctions are not permanent. They were imposed as a response to conditions prevailing in the country and these included violation of human rights, the dearth of democratic principles and disregard for the rule of law.
These issues are also addressed in the GPA and Zimbabwe would have a stronger case if after the full implementation of our own agreement the EU vacillates. That is not the case now.
It would also be useful if Mangoma, as head of delegation, had been more informative on what prompted the sanctions, what has been done to improve the situation and what is still to be done.
When preparing the balance sheet on the implementation of the GPA and the improvement of conditions which prompted the sanctions, one would realise that the debit side outweighs the credit and more has to be done.
It looks like Mangoma, in fulfilment of his party’s obligation on implementing the GPA, that is calling for the lifting of sanctions, is being dragged kicking and screaming to such fruitless meetings knowing very well that the catalyst for improvement was nowhere in Belgium, but in Harare, within a document they themselves signed in September 2008.
The sooner we address our democratic deficits the sooner the embargoes will be lifted. No amount of vitriol spewed by those considered to be outstanding issues of the GPA can defeat the fact that Zimbabwe has to embrace full democracy before sanctions can be removed.
BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE