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RIIA Zimbabwe Report: Much Ado About Nothing

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The latest Royal Institute for International Affairs (RIIA) 'Chatham House' Report on Zimbabwe available here suggests that, although the electoral legitimacy debate will continue to divide Zimbabweans, the dominance of Zanu (PF) should be accepted. Report Author Dr Knox Chitiyo.

But it also calls on Zanu (PF) to reciprocate the EU's generosity in removing sanctions by under-taking governance and economic reforms and pro-poor policies. Unfortunately Zanu (PF) does not recognise the EU's removal of sanctions as generosity requiring reciprocity.

Nor does Robert Mugabe’s party see the need for engagement with the international community or the opposition and civil society, unless it is convinced that its grip on power is threatened - and its grip on power is based on military control, patronage using national resources, and the abuse of state funds.  

Opposition and civic engagement with Zanu (PF), which Chatham House sees as pivotal, and which it suggests should be done cautiously, is also unfortunately not possible because ZANU (PF) views its rule over Zimbabwe as a right earned through the liberation war.

The report, written by Dr Knox Chitiyo and Steve Kibble, also says all of Zimbabwe’s major political parties have repeatedly demonstrated undemocratic behaviour in by-elections, primary elections and national elections - a trivial fact in both extent and in its effect on election results, which have always been determined by Zanu (PF) violence election rigging.

A significant report which should be taken into account is the Research and Advocate Unit Numbers Out of Tune which showed that the MDC-T’s voter numbers in 2013 were the same as in 2008, but Zanu (PF)‘s increased by an inexplicable 1 million votes - that was the rigging.

If we go to the next election and it is free and fair, and the economy, as expected is worse than what it is now, Zanu (PF) will lose votes, and the MDC-T's votes will increase. This cannot be allowed by Zanu (PF) to happen.

The failure to create a genuinely inclusive participatory democracy is not the result of what is going on in the opposition parties but what Zanu (PF) is doing. It is that which, if unchecked, will result in an apathetic public withdrawing from electoral processes out of realisation that it is futile to vote.

On the economy, the Chatham House researchers say Zimbabwe faces an economic crisis, but is not a total disaster as there are still "numerous institutions, organizations and businesses that are functioning ... through smart strategies, competent management, good leadership and partnerships."

They only need the government to adopt the ‘best practice’ template in a national consultative, multiple-stakeholder approach, say the researchers - again a non-starter for Zanu (PF). Though the individuals and the business community might want to engage in this way, the endemic corruption by the Zanu (PF) gate-keepers is such that no policy will be implemented unless it is seen to benefit particular individuals in powerful positions. The national good is secondary.

Chatham House’s recommendation to "clarify" indigenisation is also as old the indigenisation policy itself. It was never clear from the beginning when the Act was passed in 2008. It is not meant to be clear, because it is another tool that is used for patronage - without a clear policy, investors can be made to pay bribes, which has been reported by Zanu (PF) officials themselves.

Chatham House also called for a Task Force to be established, with political, business and other stakeholders to advise on, and assist in, lifting the country out of crisis.

It also called for the Government to produce a complementary document to ZimAsset, showing the immediate challenges to implementing the vision and a roadmap showing how the government proposes to address this over the next 12 to 18 months. Since when has Zanu (PF) ever done such a thing?

Fears of a growing underclass in southern Africa which could result in political instability are real, but don’t ever imagine that Zanu (PF) will start doing something to reverse course. They will only deal with it when it is a crisis, and they will deal with it by using soldiers.

While being part of a regional ‘renaissance’ and promoting a ‘region-brand’ would be a good thing, Zimbabwe cannot participate in any such initiative in which good governance and transparency are called for.

The recommended international engagement, including removal of remaining sanctions and targeted measures on President Mugabe and his wife and on defence equipment cannot happen if it is contingent on improvement of the governance and human rights situation, because the violations are directly related to power retention.

Without the ill-governance and the human rights violations Zanu (PF) would not retain power, and Zanu (PF) would not be interested in international re-engagement; it cannot meet the threshold for being readmitted into the Commonwealth, and the collapsing economy will not allow them to engage in any international diplomatic and business forums.

The only people with real money are the Ministers who have abused their positions and acquired huge fortunes which are sitting in foreign banks and their cronies whose businesses are leveraged on abusing their positions on government companies - none can be translated into viable business in Zimbabwe.

Politburo Member Didymus Mutasa has already admitted that the ‘Look East’ policy has failed, just like all the other Zanu (PF) policies, Indigenisation, which has led to closure of companies and enriching of a handful of Zanu (PF)-linked businessmen, and Land Reform, which has led to millions of acres of prime farming land lying fallow and hundreds of agricultural workers unemployed.

And the south-south partnerships are neither here nor there as it has become obvious that the Chinese were only interested in scheming off the alluvial diamonds and are now not interested in long term investment, nor are they interested in assisting Zimbabwe to access the Chinese markets, not that the clueless Zanu (PF) has ever asked.

The UK and Zimbabwe establishing a Zimbabwe–United Kingdom Bilateral Forum; this is as unlikely as the proposal for the opposition and civil society to engage in a "consensual or bipartisan" co-operation with a Zanu (PF) government.

Zanu (PF) would only expect the civil society to work as safety nets for the state’s failure to deliver services, but those wanting to engage in civic activities, including voter education and human rights have already been declared unwanted. They would have to water down their programmes to unacceptable levels.

"Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should ensure there is a credible and transparent electoral roll as recommended by SADC, the AU and other local and foreign bodies (including the commission itself) during the 2013 election." Yes but, if Zanu (PF) was able to stonewall these same demands when they were made long before the 2013 election, how is anyone going to force them to now implement them ahead of the next general election?

Good governance and human rights were markedly improved in the constitution, but implementation is already proving to be impossible, exemplified by the recent attempt by the Minister of Justice to smuggle onto the statute books an Electoral Amendment Bill that did not include the measurers demanded by the new Constitution.

Debate on citizenship, identity and the role of civil society, and the role and effectiveness of the various commissions; yes but unfortunately with Zanu (PF) it only ends at debate and recommendations.

Adequate funding for Parliamentary committees to play their oversight and accountability roles, and for the Civil Service Commission, the Defence Forces Commission, the Prisons and Correctional Service Commission and the Judicial Service Commission to fulfil their mandates?

Of course, but where is the money going to come from when current estimates say revenue collection is not even sufficient for civil servant's salaries alone, let alone infrastructure repair and development.

“Anti-corruption Commission needs to be reactivated and given a proper mandate, independence and powers to investigate, report on and end the culture of financial impunity.” All very well, but consider first how the commission was deactivated in the first place. Obviously there is NO political will at the very top to have an anti-corruption commission with teeth.

Diaspora to manage its internal differences and craft a collective vision? A dedicated ministry for the diaspora? Of course there will always be differences as long as Zanu (PF) is sponsoring its people to enter UK and the MDC-T is not empowering its diaspora structures to engage the Western governments effectively.

The Vigil Protest has denounced RIIA's relationship with Zanu (PF) here.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 April 2014 06:51  
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Bhadharai Pano