Power sharing, sanctions, international aid
International aid to Zimbabwe and the unconcluded power sharing deal
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Zimbabwe’s economy has been in the deep abyss for more than a decade now. Inflation is currently at a world record high of 11.2 million percent. People’s standards of living are still pathetic. Very few can afford to put three meals a day on the table. Part of the problem bedevilling this once prosperous Southern African country is largely political. With the signing of the power sharing deal on September 15 which saw Robert Mugabe of Zanu PF emerging as President, Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC), as Prime Minister and Professor Arthur Mutambara (MDC) breakaway formation, Deputy Prime Minister, the aid pledges made by mostly Western countries to assist economically and still in the face of an unconcluded deal, what is to become of the international aid packages?
Zimbabwe is one unique country. Its inhabitants have managed to gather the little energy they have in an “economically abnormal situation” and survived. Moreover, with the birth of a possible new political era if the signatories successfully conclude the deal and the international community’s commitment to help Zimbabwe come out of the economic gorge it fell in long back, there are prospects of economic and political reconstruction.
The German government this week said in a statement that it has doubled aid to Zimbabwe, which is now pegged at 2 million euros, with 800,000 euros so far availed for seven humanitarian aid projects in the country….“In cooperation with German and international aid agencies various projects to help people in need are to be funded. New projects are in the pipeline to supply emergency medical care and supplementary feeding,” reads part of the statement.
Last week the Norwegian government pledged 4,86 million-euro aid to Zimbabwe to help the country del with shortages of food, clean drinking water and cholera outbreaks. The European Union Thursday boosted its humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe by 10 million euros for health care, water and sanitation.
There has also been an 80 million United States dollars credit facility from the Egypt based African Export-Import Bank to be used to purchase grain and import oil. And many more pledges are coming Zimbabwe’s way.
Despite the debates and counter-debates whether international aid has no “strings attached” to it, there is consensus that the aid is vital to spearhead developmental projects in developing democracies, Zimbabwe included. Can Zimbabwe do without the aid and to what extent should developed nations withhold aid in the face of political disputes and political instability?
September 15 is quite historic in Zimbabwe’s political calendar. Many will remember the day for the colourful power sharing ceremony between Zanu PF and MDC, but much power has however not been shared, particularly with regards to sharing key cabinet ministries. Negotiators of the political parties have met and referred the matter back to principals (leaders of the parties), who can only deliberate on the issue when President Mugabe returns on 5 October from the 63rd session United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Against the impasse of the sharing of government ministries, the United States government has threatened additional sanctions on Zimbabwe. The US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ms Jendayi Frazer told reporters at the sidelines of the UN meeting on Monday that,” of course, we will be looking very carefully at the outcome of this impasse.
“We understand that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Finance are being contested and the outcome of that will certainly make a difference in how we see this agreement and its viability.”
Since 2002, the US government has maintained sanctions that they say target Mugabe and those close to him.
The US diplomat for Africa further said they (US) “have another set (of sanctions) ready” but quickly pointed out that the State Department and other US government agencies are making plans to step up assistance programmes to Zimbabwe at the appropriate time.
The Zimbabwe government still maintains the position that the US and its allies impose “illegal” sanctions on Zimbabwe that are targeted at “effecting regime change.” On the contrary, Frazer r told journalist at the UN General Assembly that the US is willing to help rebuild Zimbabwe’s economy.
“We want Zimbabwe to do well. The population has suffered for so long.” The diplomat for Africa says the political reform process in Zimbabwe is slow and that the US has to have “the confidence that we have a team that is committed to reform.”
Speaking at the first session of the seventh parliament of Zimbabwe on 26 August, President Mugabe had this to say concerning the elections, first the March 29 harmonised elections and the second round controversial June 27 presidential plebiscite, “the elections are now behind us. What currently is upon us is the challenge of a common vision and effort. The era of specialists who are heavy on critiques and empty on prescriptions is gone. Now is the time for us to put Zimbabwe first and challenge the many things that stifle our potential and trammel our energies.”
Whether Mugabe and Tsvangirai share a “common vision and effort” in attracting international aid is yet to be seen. Whether the “era of specialists who are heavy on critiques and empty on prescriptions” is now outdated as claimed by Mugabe, particularly in the context of apportioning much of the blame on the international community for Zimbabwe’s economic woes is subject to debate. Nevertheless, the blame game aside, can Zimbabwe salvage economically without international aid? In the case of internal political squabbles, should those with developmental aid keep mum and adopt the “See no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil” approach lest they risk being labelled for “interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. “ I rest my case.