Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum

AFRICA AND THE DIASPORA => Zimbabwe => Topic started by: scootah on August 21, 2003, 03:37:12 PM

Title: USIP Special Report 109
Post by: scootah on August 21, 2003, 03:37:12 PM
"Zimbabwe and the Prospects for Nonviolent Political Change"

While the balance of power in Zimbabwe appears to be shifting away from the ruling party, it has not shifted sufficiently yet for change to occur. The party's incumbency, its ability to capitalize on historic grievances, and its liberation credentials make many Zimbabweans feel that ZANU-PF's continued involvement in any government is inevitable.

The best means of ensuring the peaceful establishment of a transitional authority is a combination of increased international and domestic pressure on the sitting government. Mediation by international or domestic third-party actors, particularly the African troika, is probably a necessary but not sufficient condition for peaceful change. There is a growing consensus that President Mugabe is the stumbling block to constructive dialogue, although increased calls for his resignation may have the unintended effect of strengthening his resolve to stay in power. Though there is a danger that mass action could turn violent, a prolonged domestic campaign may be necessary to loosen Mugabe's hold on power and to increase the MDC's position at the negotiating table.

As for whether a transitional authority will lead to peaceful and sustainable governance in Zimbabwe, several factors need to be taken into account. Stakeholders have urged both parties to make an explicit commitment to a new constitution, the cessation of political violence, the depolitization of food distribution, and an independent land audit aimed at bringing the land situation to a just closure. The immediate abrogation of repressive legislation, such as POSA and AIPPA, is a prerequisite for democracy and respect for human rights in Zimbabwe. Above all, a mechanism must be created to ensure that civic and other stakeholders can have input into the transitional process.

The international community can encourage these aims by pursuing diplomatic strategies that respond to broad national concerns. African and western governments can work together to complement each other's efforts, rather than fuel polarization. Put simply, if mediation by African governments is necessary to bring parties to the table, western governments can provide the necessary financial assistance for implementing transition agreements and facilitating post-transition economic recovery—in particular through debt relief. Moreover, western governments can support longer-term domestic initiatives that build societal ownership over the transitional process and peace within society at large.

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