Despite public utterances to the effect that relations between Zimbabwe and the West should have been normalised with the formation of the inclusive government last year, it is clear that more is yet to be done — especially on the human rights, governance and rule-of-law fronts.
Last week, Energy minister Elton Mangoma, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and International Integration minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga met the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson to review the progress made since the institution of the unity government 18 months ago.
A statement released by the US authorities after the meeting is emblematic of the thinking of the development partners and donors who froze relations after our country descended into anarchy at the turn of the century.
The statement reads in part: “The United States recognised and applauded the economic advances that have occurred in Zimbabwe, but remains concerned that political progress has not been as successful…
“The United States pointed out that the current political and human rights environment in Zimbabwe remained troublesome, pointing to the recent harassment of Woza members and the disruption of constitution-making meetings in Harare.”
There was a convergence between what the US said and the EU pronounced this week when allocating 138,6 euro million to Zimbabwe under the 10th European Development Fund.
Disbursement of this fund, the EU said, is subject to the signature of a Country Strategy Paper with Zimbabwe which should be preceded by a revision of measures, which currently limits direct cooperation with the government of Zimbabwe.
“These steps will accompany further progress in the fundamental reforms set out in the GPA,” said the EU.
It is clear from what the US and the EU said that any effort to restore relations between the West and Zimbabwe is dependent upon how far the three political parties that are signatories to the GPA go in implementing the agreement.
This would lay the foundation for the success of all the other efforts the country, the southern African bloc, the continent through the African Union and all other forums are making to have the relations normalised.
It would thus be futile to call, even from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, for the removal of sanctions and restrictive measures without first registering substantive progress in implementing the GPA.
South African President Jacob Zuma’s efforts to have relations normalised, during his current visit to Europe, will come to naught for as long as there is no progress in implementing the GPA.
It is interesting to note that despite shouting from the rooftops for the normalisation of relations, the parties seem oblivious to what is required of them to fulfil their end of the bargain.
A sober reading of what the US and EU have said leads one to conclude that it is after presenting a clean balance sheet that serious progress would be made towards removal of sanctions. The EU and the US have not been ambiguous on this issue. What is needed is to have a credit when the balance sheet is being prepared. As it stands now, there are more debits than credits in terms of the implementation of the GPA.
Economic reforms, however good, are not enough and it is up to the political leaders to remove impediments towards the fulfilment of the GPA. It is salient to note that the measures required need no money to implement. It is only the political will that is lacking on the part of the leaders. We need no funds to heal the nation and repeal repressive legislation. It doesn’t cost anything to open up the airwaves. In fact government would benefit from the income.
It needs no dollars and cents to have citizens freely express their opinions during the Copac outreach programmes.
It is only after we, as a country, have made this simple realisation and implemented these measures that we will be able to call upon the EU and US to review their position.
Until then, the political leaders may as well climb Mount Everest and shout from there because nothing will move. There is no need to climb mountains but to institute elementary reforms regarding respect for human rights and the rule of law, and the rest will fall into place.