Zimbabwe's crisis: finding a way forward

Brussels/Harare, 13 July 2001: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe continues the repression and misgovernment that is destroying one of the most prosperous and promising countries in Africa. But in a new report published today, the International Crisis Group spells out a strategy that may have some chance of success if it receives support from key international actors - especially the U.S., EU, Commonwealth and UN.
In "Zimbabwe in Crisis: Finding a Way Forward", ICG argues that the 2002 Presidential election should become the focus for collective international action. If Mugabe will not permit the election to be free and fair, he and his family as well as senior ZANU-PF figures should face targeted personal sanctions, including travel restrictions and a freeze on assets held overseas. And the Commonwealth, due to meet in Australia in October, should suspend Zimbabwe's membership.

Preconditions for the election must include the establishment of an independent electoral commission; reorganisation of voter registration rolls; international monitoring before, during, and after the elections; and allowing the independent media to operate unhindered. They should also include, to level the political playing field, the licensing of an independent radio station, and permitting the opposition to receive, if it wishes, assistance from the international community.

ICG President Gareth Evans said: "The need is essentially for a Yugoslavia 2000 strategy. It is up to the people of Zimbabwe to determine their future - but at the moment they have no chance of being able to do that, and the pro-reform movement needs all the international support it can get."

Mugabe continues to abuse the land issue to excite racial confrontation. ICG argues that donor governments and the World Bank should negotiate with Zimbabwe to try to resolve the issue before the election on the basis of earlier agreed international plans and UNDP recommendations.

While international donors should continue their moratorium on balance of payments support as well as any aid other than closely monitored humanitarian assistance, they should establish a trust fund now that would be used to help rebuild Zimbabwe's economy - if the election is free and fair.

Also important will be the public and private messages conveyed to Harare by regional governments, especially South Africa. Further declines in Zimbabwe's economy will have a major negative impact in the region and further deterioration in the political and security situation is likely to generate waves of refugees.