Much to be done to arrest decline in Zimbabwe

via Much to be done to arrest decline in Zimbabwe | Opinion & Analysis | BDlive September 30 2014 by Piers Pigou

A YEAR after Zanu (PF)’s election victory and the formation of a new government, Zimbabwe’s politics and economy are increasingly precarious. Immediate prospects for a sustained recovery remain bleak, made worse by dire economic decline, endemic governance failures and tension over ruling-party succession.

The 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA) was intended to provide space to lay foundations for the country’s revitalisation. Key elements of the GPA framework, however, were left undone and what was started by the previous government of national unity has not been consolidated by the new administration. Without major political and economic reforms, the country could slide into a failed state.

Rather than addressing the corroding social and economic fabric, both the ruling party and opposition are embroiled in internal power struggles. Zanu (PF) continues to wheel out an increasingly threadbare explanation that western sanctions bear primary responsibility for its predicament, and that its economic future relies on developing relations with allies such as China and Russia. At the same time, it continues efforts to resuscitate relations with international financial institutions, as its desperate quest to alleviate liquidity constraints continues.

It is, of course, not an “either/or” situation, and Zimbabwe’s recovery requires constructive engagement on all fronts. Ironically, it is western support over the past 15 years that has averted a major humanitarian disaster.

Zimbabwe still has the capacity to reform and prevent further deterioration, but has failed to demonstrate the political will to do so. It will continue struggling without actively building confidence on a range of fronts, including tangible commitments to greater policy coherence, improved governance, adherence to the rule of law, accountability and clarity on the leadership succession in Zanu (PF).

Political and economic insecurity is worsened by mounting tension over the succession imbroglio, which has been further complicated by the entry of the first lady, Grace Mugabe, into the political arena. Declaring President Robert Mugabe as the party’s candidate for the 2018 elections, when he will be 94 years old, will do little to allay concerns and Zanu (PF) should use its December congress to decide who will replace him were he to be incapacitated or decide not to seek re-election in 2018.

Questions remain about Mugabe’s 2013 election victory, which did not secure broad-based legitimacy for the new government. Key process and institutional concerns must be addressed to avoid a rerun of such concerns in 2018. An unambiguous and tangible response to the issues raised by Southern African Development Community and the African Union observer missions is necessary. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s recent report on the polls and the body’s failure to make available an electronic copy of the voters’ roll simply reinforces perceptions of institutional bias. Such concerns cannot be simply wished away.

Zanu (PF) holds primary responsibility for investing in efforts to rebuild trust and collaboration with domestic and international constituencies. The challenge needs a collective effort underpinned by an inclusive national dialogue with the opposition and civil society on political, social and economic reform priorities; and clarifying and acting on key policy areas, including indigenisation, land reform, rule of law and fighting corruption.

Opposition to Zanu (PF) has been weakened; the Movement for Democratic Change and other opposition parties are sidelined, their cachet with international players as conduits for recovery severely damaged, and prospects for a common opposition agenda remote. Their inclusion in mapping the way forward is, however, vital, although Zanu (PF) has shown little inclination to engage.

Zimbabwe is an insolvent and failing state, its politics zero-sum, its institutions hollowing out and its once vibrant economy moribund. A major culture change is needed among political elites, as well as a commitment to national over partisan and personal interests. The international community, East and West, must explore common ground to nurture a climate for economic recovery and policy coherence. The government must show it is a reliable partner. The situation is not sustainable and the toxic residue of Zimbabwe’s decay permeates the region, further stymieing integration and development.

• Pigou is the Southern Africa project director for the International Crisis Group. Its briefing, “Zimbabwe: Waiting for the Future”, was released on Monday.


  • comment-avatar
    ZIM invest? 8 years ago

    Never invest in Zimbabwe, ever. After investing 100k usd I ended up in jail and lost control of a company I started with zim citizen? ha never I d rather stay south of the border in sa. u simply cant trust any1 in zim they all like mugabe

  • comment-avatar
    choo-o 8 years ago

    I agree with the factual truths in your essay but i’m inclined not to agree with the tittle.the obvious thing needed to arrest the decline is to get rid of Mugab plus his ‘gay gangsters’,unless much is needed to achieve this then the tittle may hold.

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    Talking logic to ZANU is a waste

  • comment-avatar
    Mlimo 8 years ago

    There is a natural factor that is working to get rid of Mugabe that neither he nor zanupf can rig or corrupt and that is the economy. Sooner than later the funds will dry up and with no loans forthcoming the collapse is inevitable. Whether we want it or not will the population then wake up to the failures and go to the streets and throw out Mugabe is the question. Quite honestly they don’t have the stomach for it. And quite frankly there are no opposition leaders capable of the leadership required. So the country will limp along in more limbo. Historically Zimbabweans are a meek race so are quite happy to be dominated by those that wish to rise up and take the lead. The whites, the Ndebele and now the zanupf. We who have fled Zimbabwe fit so well into modern day Western culture that life becomes too easy . And with the privileges that free democracy and good governance bring see no future in returning. Where then is our national pride? Where is the spirit that says stand up and throw out this corrupt government? And that is the crux of the problem life has become too good outside Zimbabwe and the population inside too weak to do anything. There is therefore no future for Zimbabwe just another failed tinpot African state.

  • comment-avatar

    Plate Glass Industries Zimbabwe Ltd – i see this once proud and great company is hopelessly broke. Its liabilities exceeds its assets by USD14 million – it lost USD 4 million this last year !
    How can this company be saved – it seems to be on course to follow all Zimbabwe parastatals to the grave.

  • comment-avatar

    The absolute first step in arresting the decline is to get rid of President Robert Mugabe immediately.
    The Vice President can take over and let a new day begin.
    It will have many difficulties, but at least there will be a new direction.
    Hopefully we can build on that.
    But Mugabe – he is just a dead end.

  • comment-avatar
    I am not the one 8 years ago

    I fear that any change at the top will only plunge the country into total chaos. Once only has to look at all of the countries which participated in the “Arab Spring” to see that not one has moved onto a more prosperous, stable and just society. Sorry to say Zim is onto a hiding which ever route it goes.

  • comment-avatar
    just saying 8 years ago

    @I am not the one – There might well be some instability when Mugabe goes which is inevitable no matter how. ZPF has created a this untenable situation by allowing Mugabe to single handedly run this country & by not ensuring there is a succession plan. We as Zimbabweans are complicit as with the exception of a few brave souls we have allowed ourselves to be cowered by ZPF.

  • comment-avatar
    Phunyukabemphethe 8 years ago

    There is just too much tribalism, racism and gukurahundism in Zimbabwe; its now impossible to arrest the decline, whilst Gukurahundi ZANU PF are still around. The major problem is that these barriers to progress are now psychological conditioning issues. Now altering a psychological condition is a far much more difficult a task than changing the physical!!

  • comment-avatar

    Unfortunately I see even bigger problems coming when Mugabe goes as we are still run by the JOC ,which means we are still a military state.And who ever has the biggest gun will be the winner.Violence will return again ,just look at most of your African countries.Also there are more resources to fight for now in the form of minerals and maybe oil.Unfortunately AFRICA will be AFRICA .If all politicians were god fearing and honest ,things would change.But I don’t think in our life time.