Zimbabwe global political agreement: One-year forward

Washington DC, Wednesday, September 15, 2009 - Today is the one-year anniversary of the power-sharing accord that resulted in the creation of the new Zimbabwe unity government in early 2009. One-year forward, Africa Action notes that while serious challenges remain, significant changes have been made to improve the economic and political conditions on the ground.

Gerald LeMelle, Executive Director of Africa Action said today, "The unity government has made some successful steps in providing democratic space in Zimbabwe. Civic leaders have been able to begin discussions on how best to organize and regroup to realize the potential for political and economic reform in the near future."

Africa Action notes the ban on international media has been lifted and independent organizations and journalists are set to report from Zimbabwe so to allow greater media diversity.

"For the sake of ordinary people from Zimbabwe who are celebrating improvements accomplished as a result of the peace accord, the new unity government must fulfill its obligations as outlined in the agreement," added LeMelle.

The Global Political Agreement that gave birth to Zimbabwe's unity government stipulates that the country must have a new constitution by August 2010. The creation of new constitution remains fundamental to the protection of human rights in the country.

"The process of making a new constitution will be one of the most important steps forward for the unity government in Zimbabwe. It must guarantee good governance, economic fairness and social justice," said Michael Stulman, Associate Director of Policy and Communications.

Africa Action was invited to participate in the People's Constitutional Convention organized by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and the National Alliance for NGOs (NANGO), in Harare. There were more than 2,000 activists from 234 civic groups.

Africa Action highlighted four benchmarks for a truly democratic constitution:

1. A Free Political Environment

2. A People Driven Process

3. A Democratic Content

4. A Free and Fair Referendum

For further analysis, read the report, The 2009 People's Constitutional Convention here.

Stulman adds, "This is a fragile and delicate transition in Zimbabwe. If tensions within the unity government increase further, we could begin to see an unraveling of progress made in the past year."

Briggs Bomba, Director of Campaigns at Africa Action, is available to comment on the Global Political Agreement. Briggs has extensive experience working with civil society organizations in Zimbabwe and other African countries.

To arrange interviews, call Michael Stulman: (m) 202-469-9542