Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Zimbabwe: Waiting for the Future

Source: International Crisis Group

Zimbabwe’s growing instability is exacerbated by dire economic decline, endemic governance failures, and tensions over ruling party succession; without major political and economic reforms, the country could slide into being a failed state.

A year on since the election victory of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Zimbabwe’s politics and economy are ever more precarious. Rather than addressing the corroding social and economic fabric, both the ruling party and the opposition are embroiled in internal power struggles. In its latest briefing, Zimbabwe: Waiting for the Future, the International Crisis Group examines Zimbabwe’s challenges and argues that while it still has the capacity to deliver on reforms and prevent further deterioration, it will struggle to do so without policy coherence, improved governance, accountability and clarity as to the leadership succession within ZANU-PF.

The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:
  • Political and economic insecurity is exacerbated by mounting tensions over the succession within ZANU-PF, and further complicated by the entry of the First Lady, Grace Mugabe, into the political arena. ZANU-PF should use the December National People’s congress to decide who will replace 90-year-old President Robert Mugabe were he to be incapacitated or decide not to seek re-election in 2018.
  • ZANU-PF should seek to rebuild trust and collaboration with domestic and international constituencies by (i) holding an inclusive national dialogue with the opposition and civil society on political, social and economic reforms; and (ii) clarifying and acting on key policy areas including indigenisation, land reform and the rule of law, as well as anti-corruption initiatives.
  • Questions remain about Robert Mugabe’s 2013 election victory; it has not secured broad-based legitimacy, and key process and institutional concerns must be addressed to avoid a rerun of such concerns in 2018. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) should encourage Zimbabwe to address election-related concerns identified in their respective election-observation mission reports.
  • The Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and other opposition parties are sidelined, their cachet with international players has been severely damaged, and prospects for a common opposition agenda are remote.
“The international community – East and West – must explore common ground to help nurture an appropriate climate for economic recovery and policy coherence” says Piers Pigou, Southern Africa Project Director. “The Zimbabwean government must demonstrate clearly and consistently it is a reliable partner that delivers on its undertakings. The current situation is not sustainable. There is simply not enough money circulating in the formal economy and Zimbabwe is struggling to finance its deficit, borrowing from wherever it can even to pay its civil service bill”.

“Zimbabwe is an insolvent and failing state, its politics zero sum, its institutions hollowing out, and its once vibrant economy moribund”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “A major culture change is needed among political elites, as well as commitment to national as opposed to partisan and personal interests”.