EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Despite the rising
humanitarian costs of the crisis in Zimbabwe, the international community remains deeply
divided about its response, allowing President Mugabe to believe that he can
exploit the policy fissure between – broadly – the West and Africa. The foreign media’s emphasis on the plight
of white commercial farmers plays into the regime’s liberation rhetoric,
reinforcing the erroneous but widespread belief in Africa that the West is concerned about Zimbabwe
only because white property interests have
been harmed. What is happening in Zimbabwe and the lack of a continental
response have damaged perceptions of Africa in the wider international community,
weakening in the process the promising but still embryonic New Partnership for
Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Union (AU).
crisis of governance is the primary cause of its economic tailspin and food
emergency. The ruling ZANU-PF party has consolidated nearly absolute political
and economic power in the aftermath of the stolen March 2002 presidential
election and the similarly flawed 28-29 September local elections. Both were
marked by systematic state-sponsored violence and intimidation, but ZANU-PF
officials went even further in the latter case, telling local chiefs and
headmen in some areas that if they did not produce a ruling party victory, they
would not receive food. Indeed, food is increasingly being used as a political
weapon to undermine opponents and reward loyalists.
If current trends
are not reversed, there is a real prospect that its political, economic and
social foundations will collapse, leaving Zimbabwe a failed state. At the least, the escalating
economic crisis will further destabilise the region, particularly South Africa, by driving tens of thousands more refugees
out of Zimbabwe and into the neighbouring states.
Destruction of the commercial farming sector, the backbone of the economy,
ensures that this is no short term emergency.
Despite government rhetoric, the land invasion strategy has
not reformed ownership inequities. Its real objectives – as with the abuse of
food aid – have been to punish the opposition and to reward its own supporters.
Large estates have routinely been given to ZANU-PF officials and military
officers, creating a class of absentee landlords who are growing few crops in
the midst of intensifying famine. Mugabe believes that the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) will disintegrate without white farmer support. He
wants to retain many white farmers since his government needs the foreign
exchange they can generate, but as docile supporters of his party. He has
calculatingly taken a temporary hit in production to break the back of
commercial farmer support for the MDC. Politically compliant farmers will be
allowed to remain, while the assault will continue on those who are more
The international response is still characterised by too
much bark and too little bite. Mugabe himself may be virtually impossible to
influence at this stage, but to affect ZANU-PF calculations, key actors must
increase the regime’s isolation. More credible targeted sanctions – wider,
deeper and better enforced than those presently in place in the U.S.
and the EU – are a necessary start.
regional movement, however, there is little hope for achieving meaningful
change in Zimbabwe. South Africa and its negotiating partner, Nigeria, can provide ZANU-PF an honourable way out
of the crisis by resuming the process they began last spring, before the ruling
party walked out, for negotiation of a transitional or interim government leading
to an internationally supervised new election.
However, South Africa does not yet appear to be sufficiently
convinced of the imminence of the threat to its own stability to act with
sufficient energy, especially as it seems to fear the impact of Mugabe’s
charges that it is in collusion with the West. Therefore, the U.S. and EU,
although they should not drop their insistence that more vigorous action
regarding Zimbabwe could engender greater support for NEPAD, should, eschew
public and presently counter-productive pressure on Pretoria to do more, while
increasing quiet engagement with and pressure on the other countries of the
Southern African Development Commission (SADC) and Nigeria. If they can be
persuaded to act more resolutely, even if only behind the scenes while many
remain relatively supportive of Mugabe in public, this will have a positive
impact in turn on South Africa’s willingness to act.
If it wishes to energise a timely and effective regional
response, the wider international community will also need to develop and
demonstrate greater understanding of the land issue as it is strongly felt
throughout the continent, especially in southern Africa.
objectives remain an end to the political standoff, restoration of the rule of
law, timely retirement of Mugabe and creation of conditions for free and fair
elections so that Zimbabwe’s
citizens can determine their leaders. The division of labour between states
applying public pressure and those working in private is the most realistic
tactic by which to resolve the crisis before Zimbabwe collapses entirely or
more widespread violence erupts.
To the governments of South Africa and Nigeria:
1. Revive efforts to negotiate an inter-party (ZANU-PF and MDC)
solution, with civil society input, which will require initial pressure to
bring ZANU-PF back to the table.
2. Coordinate regional (SADC) and broader African pressures to
ensure that ZANU-PF no longer obstructs the process, which should be directed
toward achieving a negotiated inter-party solution that includes restoration of
the rule of law, genuine land reform, an exit strategy for Mugabe, and
establishment of conditions for free and fair parliamentary and presidential
elections to be held significantly ahead of the regularly scheduled dates.
To the wider international community, especially the
governments of the U.S. and EU:
3. Undertake a more nuanced two-track policy of strong and
public unilateral actions to isolate the ZANU-PF regime while quietly engaging
with and applying back-stage pressure on key African states and SADC to
encourage them to more resolute action.
a) To isolate the ZANU-PF regime:
enforce existing targeted sanctions rigorously, tighten
loopholes and, when international legal obligations require host states to
permit Zimbabwean officials to attend conferences, restrict delegates narrowly
to the immediate conference area of the city in question;
expand the list of those targeted to cover the regime’s
commercial supporters and bankers (including safari operators fronting for
ZANU-PF economic interests), key army and police officers, ZANU-PF officials
one tier below those currently on the list, and family members of those
targeted, particularly those studying in the West;
b) To engage quietly with key African states and SADC and apply
back-stage pressure to encourage more resolute action:
4. Engage more directly and systematically on the issue of land
reform, focusing initially on listening to the concerns of southern African
governments, opposition parties and civil society organisations about unequal
To the Food Donors and Operational Relief Agencies:
5. Shine a spotlight on the politicisation of food aid in Zimbabwe
and make all food relief conditional on ensuring that everyone receives
assistance regardless of political affiliation.
6. Specifically target displaced persons.
7. Work urgently with the government to have more implementing
partners approved for food distribution.
8. Minimise controversy by providing maize wherever possible
from non-genetically modified supplies or, if this is not feasible,
substituting as necessary other grains such as wheat.
To the Government of Zimbabwe:
9. Return to the negotiating table with the MDC, cease violence
and repression against the opposition and civil society, and ameliorate the
food crisis by stopping use of food as a political weapon, liberalising its import,
and approving additional implementing partners to distribute it.
To the Opposition MDC:
10. Clarify the party’s position on land reform and the
differences between it and ZANU-PF on implementation.
Harare/Brussels, 17 October 2002