Further assistance to Zimbabwe on the anniversary of the Global Political Agreement

AA 57-09

Today is the first anniversary of the signing of the Zimbabwe's Global Political Agreement which created the Inclusive Government of Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe.

Australia has been at the forefront of international efforts - both political and humanitarian - to assist Zimbabwe and, since the establishment of the Inclusive Government, has provided more than $20 million in assistance.

Australia was one of the first countries to deliver assistance in a manner that has become known as 'humanitarian plus'.

Today, in a Ministerial Statement to the Parliament, I announced further measures to assist Zimbabwe.

This year nearly three million Zimbabweans will need food aid. To address this, Australia will immediately provide a further $5 million in food aid through the World Food Programme.

As a result of improving crop yields in some areas, Zimbabwean suppliers will, for the first time in a decade, be able to tender to supply this food, contributing to the rebuilding of the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe.

Australia will also work with The Netherlands and contribute $1 million in 2009-10 to support private sector activities aimed at boosting agricultural production.

Australia believes it is time to carefully consider working directly with select Zimbabwean Government Ministries and agencies to help build capacity and support the restoration of essential services like health and education.

Australia will also provide $2 million through UNICEF to support Zimbabwe's Ministry of Education in the provision of much needed materials including text books for Zimbabwean schools.

Australia understands the risks of providing assistance in Zimbabwe and has implementation and monitoring systems in place to minimise the risk of funds being misdirected or misused.

The Australian Government is also under no illusions about the political risks in Zimbabwe, and the track record of Mr Mugabe and ZANU-PF.

Australia's financial and travel sanctions will remain in place for the present.

These sanctions target individuals who have been responsible for, or involved in, acts to undermine the rule of law, corruption, violence and intimidation.

The sanctions do not impact on the broader population in Zimbabwe.

Since 2002, Australia has also applied a ban on Minister-to-Minister contact with Zimbabwean Ministers.

In recognition of the efforts of parts of the inclusive government over its first year, Australia will consider opportunities for Ministerial engagement on a selective case-by-case basis with those Ministers of the Zimbabwean Government who we judge to be making a real and genuine contribution to Zimbabwe's social and economic recovery.

The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), as facilitator and guarantor of the Global Political Agreement, has a critical role to play in ensuring its terms are adhered to.

Australia supports the role of Zimbabwe's neighbours, in overseeing the Agreement, and recognises the important role the African Union and SADC have played to date in supporting Zimbabwe to address its grave economic, political and social challenges.

South Africa itself facilitated the inter-party negotiations that led to the current agreement.

Regional leaders, including from Botswana and Zambia, have played a prominent role in calling for a just and timely resolution to Zimbabwe's protracted disputes.

I will continue to discuss Zimbabwe with African counterparts, as I have with the Foreign Ministers of Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana and Rwanda during their visits to Australia over recent months.


Mr Smith's Office: Courtney Hoogen 02 6277 7500 or 0488 244901
Departmental: (02) 6261 1555