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Zimbabwe: What Next?
Crisis Group (ICG)
Africa Report N°93
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summary and recommendations
and the ZANU-PF party used more sophisticated methods than previously
but they manipulated the electoral process through a range of legal
and extra-legal means to ensure that the election was basically
decided well before the first voters reached the polls. With the
addition of the 30 representatives Mugabe has the right to appoint,
his party now holds 108 of the 150 parliamentary seats, comfortably
above the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution
at will. ZANU-PF is expected to use that power to prepare a safe
and honourable retirement for its 81-year-old leader, who has said
he does not want to stand for re-election in 2008.
is beset with factionalism, spurred by the desire of powerful figures
to position themselves for the succession fight. A taste of the
blood-letting was provided by a bitter party congress in December
2004, but the fact that the main factions substantially represent
still unreconciled ethnic interests suggests that holding the party
together may be difficult.
In the wake
of another stolen election, the MDC must decide fundamental questions,
including whether to adopt a more confrontational and extra-parliamentary
opposition despite the prospect that any street action risks calling
down the full repressive power of the security services. Leadership
and party program issues are as much under review as tactics, and
some old supporters are asking whether the party can and should
survive in its present form.
The "quiet diplomacy"
of South Africa, the single state with potentially the greatest
influence on Zimbabwe, has failed, at least to the extent it sought
to mediate a compromise end to the political stalemate, and the
Zimbabwe opposition has indicated it no longer accepts Pretoria
as an honest broker. The U.S. and the EU have not hesitated to speak
frankly about the quality of the election -- unlike the African
states and organisations that have praised it out of apparent reluctance
to break solidarity with a one-time revolutionary hero -- but they
are no nearer to finding a way to do more than symbolically protest
The one point
on which broad consensus may be possible is that Mugabe needs to
go, and quickly, in the interests of his country. That is probably
the single most important step, though far from a sufficient one,
that can begin to create conditions for a peaceful transition back
to democracy and a functioning economy. He cannot be taken at his
word that he will leave in 2008, and that is a very long time to
wait for a country suffering as much as Zimbabwe is. Regional and
other international actors should push for a credible earlier date.
successors within ZANU-PF know their country cannot afford indefinite
isolation. In particular, the U.S., the EU and the international
financial institutions should make it clear that there will be no
end to targeted sanctions, no prospect of substantial aid, and no
resumption of normal relations unless there are real changes, not
only in the names at the top of government structures but in governance.
Indeed, they should signal that in the absence of such changes,
ZANU-PF leaders run the risk of stronger measures that may grow
out of closer investigation of such policies as their misuse of
food aid for political purposes and the general looting of the economy.
ZANU-PF is calling
the just concluded election a fresh beginning. It is not. Economic
meltdown, food insecurity, political repression and tensions over
land and ethnicity are all ongoing facts of life that the election
has not changed for the better in any way. But Zimbabwe's crisis
is not frozen. In recent weeks, the government has arrested more
than 30,000 small, informal traders in the major cities, allegedly
to fight the black market but probably at least as much to head
off a growing risk of spontaneous protests against economic privation.
The ageing of the old and the conflicting ambitions of the would-be
new ZANU-PF chieftains, as well as the growing frustration of what
until now has been a remarkably non-violent opposition, ensure that
change of some kind is coming soon. Unless Zimbabwe's friends get
busy and get together, it is all too possible it will be violent
Zimbabwe Government and ZANU-PF:
1. Issue an
immediate appeal for food aid, and allow the unhindered delivery
of humanitarian assistance, including by NGOs, with transparent
2. Set a date
for the president's retirement before 2008 and initiate discussions
with the international community and the opposition as to the parameters
of an orderly transition, including the holding of new and joint
presidential and parliamentary elections monitored by the UN.
restraint in the exercise of the two-thirds parliamentary majority
and the concomitant power to amend the constitution without regard
to opposition views and launch a process of legislative revision
or repeal designed to dismantle the restrictions on fundamental
freedoms contained in such laws as the Public Order and Security
Act (POSA), the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA), and the Private Voluntary Organisations Act (PVO).
a comprehensive review of the electoral law in light of the experiences
of the recent parliamentary election and specifically initiate a
series of confidence building measures, including:
of the presidential power to appoint 30 non-elected parliamentarians;
- wider and
fairer use of absentee ballots; and
of responsibilities and removal of overlaps with respect to such
bodies as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Election Supervisory
the NGO bill from parliamentary consideration in its current form.
a clear party position on next steps and the best way to exert pressure
on the government to speed a political transition, and specifically:
strategic alliances and partnerships with civil society and other
- hold party
elections in order to refresh leadership and renew party structures;
on developing practical alternative programs on crucial issues
affecting the daily lives of Zimbabweans including the deteriorating
economy, food insecurity and human rights abuses; and
- rebuild external
relations, especially with Southern African governments and the
To the South African Government:
the insufficiency of its existing policy toward Zimbabwe and conduct
a comprehensive review that:
- takes into
account diverse views from the left, right and centre inside South
clear estimates of the overall costs of the Zimbabwe situation
to South Africa's economy and regional stature and democracy in
the region; and
- is directed
at finding a more effective way to resolve Zimbabwe's political
crisis and counteract its economic implosion.
8. Give particular
consideration in the course of this policy review to the following
not mutually exclusive options:
- working with
the Commonwealth, especially its secretariat and office of the
chairperson (currently held by Nigeria's President Obasanjo) to
support comprehensive democratic reforms and to assess progress
on governance and restoration of the rule of law; and
the G8 member countries to use their 6-8 July 2005 summit to send
a clear message to Zimbabwe that neither major donors nor international
financial organisations will give funds unless there is evident
progress in re-instituting a regime based on the rule of law,
good governance and respect for human rights.
9. Use the chairmanships
of the African Union's Peace and Security Council and the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) organ on politics, defense
and security to press President Mugabe to set a date for his early
retirement, and the Zimbabwe government to undertake credible measures
to ease the political crisis and facilitate economic recovery.
the Southern African Development Community (SADC):
Review its principles and guidelines governing democratic elections
so that observation teams are independent, depoliticised and empowered
to study all the elements required to ensure a free and fair election,
including the absence of control of the media, selective and politically
motivated prosecutions and law enforcement, intimidation, corruption,
gerrymandering and control of voter rolls.
11. Reach out
to democratic forces in the region, including the opposition in
Use the chairmanships of the Commonwealth and the African Union
to intensify pressure on the Zimbabwe government to embark on democratic
reform and economic recovery.
Pursue implementation of the January 2005 Report of the Executive
Council of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights calling
for Zimbabwe to restore an impartial judiciary and security forces,
cease arbitrary arrests of political opponents and revise restrictive
media and security legislation.
Wider International Community, Especially the United Nations, European
Union and the United States:
Seek unrestricted access for humanitarian aid in Zimbabwe and examine
in a coordinated fashion whether the continued use of food as a
political weapon in that country is sufficiently systematic, widespread,
and focused on opposition supporters to warrant referral to the
UN Security Council.
15. Press President
Mugabe to set a date for his retirement sooner than 2008 and initiate
discussions with MDC and ZANU-PF officials about a credible transition
process and the contours of a post-Mugabe government.
16. Expand assistance
to the democratic forces in Zimbabwe looking to promote a peaceful
and speedy transition, and explore expanding the scope of targeted
sanctions against senior individuals in and around the Zimbabwe
government and ZANU-PF and the numbers and categories of persons
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