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  • Benchmarks for re-engagement by the international community
    Research and Advocacy Unit, Idasa
    February 11, 2009

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    With the decision by MDC-T to enter the "unity government" has come an immediate call (for example by the AU) for the lifting of "sanctions" and the re-engagement of the international (donor) community with the Zimbabwean government. Now, it is not clear to all that the formal sanctions applied to Zimbabwe consist solely of targeted sanctions against several score individuals (and more recently businesses) and asset freezes, and, although thus of limited impact, they remain a source of pressure upon ZANU PF to restore democratic norms in Zimbabwe. However, the call for the lifting of sanctions does not merely apply to these "targeted" sanctions, but is also a call for the Western nations (the EU and the United States of America) and the multi-lateral finance institutions (the IMF and the World Bank) to re-engage, and provide balance of payments support and development assistance. It has been made abundantly clear by all these bodies and countries that re-instituting support to Zimbabwe will be conditional upon compliance with standard lending criteria and the restoration of democracy.

    It is evident to most that ZANU PF's will to do so has been wholly absent since the signing of the Global Political Agreement in September 2008. There is no evidence that ZANU PF has made even a minimal attempt to honour the undertaking to "respect the democratic values of justice, fairness, openness, tolerance, equality, respect of all persons and human rights" outlined in the Preamble to the Agreement. Rather there has been continued political violence, disregard of the rule of law, continued partisan media coverage and press reporting. Even though a "unity" government is currently being put in place, this of itself does not mean that democracy has been restored.

    It would then seem premature to remove the targeted sanctions, and even more premature for the international community to move beyond the provision of humanitarian support into balance of payments support and development aid. There is clearly still a need for the implementation of the Agreement to be carefully monitored by all parties.

    With these points in mind, there should be no re-engagement by the international community, outside of humanitarian assistance, until a six month period of monitoring the implementation of the Agreement against clear and explicit benchmarks has taken place. This period is necessary in order to test the good faith of the parties to the Agreement, and especially the good faith of ZANU PF. The monitoring should be both local, by Zimbabwean civics, and international, by SADC, AU, and UN observers.

    The monitoring of an agreement is an issue that has been much discussed by Zimbabwean civil society and its international partners, and there have been several exercises to specify the kinds of benchmarks that should be put in place to determine the efficacy of any agreement.

    These bench marks however should not be specified without determining how and who will monitor these. It is not enough to merely provide a list of indicators without an equivalent measuring process. Some of this should be done by the Zimbabwean civil society organizations that have been doing an excellent job already, and some may need to be done by new initiatives. This local process should be complimented by external bodies, with at least a small team from SADC/AU to act as arbiters over the validity of reports.

    Although there are very valuable benchmarks that have been previously developed, and the following derives strongly from these, it is also evident that the bench marks will need to be more specific in order that they can be unambiguously monitored. The following is an attempt to build on these earlier suggestions in an effort to make the bench marks more specific.

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