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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Zimbabwe: Updates / Analysis

Zimbabwe: Updates / Analysis
Date distributed (ymd): 001005
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ Summary Contents:
This posting contains short updates on Zimbabwe from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), as well as a background analysis distributed last month through the Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA) and a reference to the recently released report by the International Crisis Group

For additional background and references to on-line sources see documents distributed earlier this year, including:>>>

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


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ZIMBABWE: Pessimistic outlook by ICG

IRIN-SA - Tel: +2711 880 4633; Fax: +2711 447 5472; e-mail:

[This item is delivered in the "africa-english" service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: or Web: . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Reposting by commercial sites requires written IRIN permission.]

JOHANNESBURG, 3 October (IRIN) - Three months after Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections in June, the prevailing atmosphere in the country has been described by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) as one of uncertainty, frustration and anger.

"There is no positive leadership," the ICG said in its latest report On Zimbabwe. "No-one had a sense of where the country is headed except down."

"While the new cabinet includes several new, competent ministers in the economic area, there has been no discernible return to the rule of law and good governance. The economy continues to spiral downwards. The Government has announced its intention to compulsorily acquire over 3,000 commercial farms, has publicly identified over 2,000 of them, and has begun a 'fast track' resettlement programme that would move settlers on to many hundreds of them before the rainy season begins in November. This is not land reform; it is a politically driven land grab which will devastate Zimbabwe's agriculturally based economy without immediately benefiting those being resettled," said the report which was published last week.

"The culprit for Zimbabwe's continuing slide towards the abyss is President Robert Mugabe. He learned nothing positive from the June elections. If anything he has become more autocratic, determined to maintain personal control regardless of the costs to the nation. He ignores constructive advice from within Zimbabwe and from the international community. In these grim circumstances, it is imperative that the international community and regional neighbours continue to provide wise counsel and bring whatever pressure they can to bear on President Mugabe and his regime," the report said.

The ICG said the rule of law had to be restored, that government should work cooperatively with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) instead of victimising it. It also urged the government to end the farm occupations, address the budget deficit, and "re-engage immediately" with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other potential sources of outside assistance. It also recommended that Zimbabwe withdraw its armed forces from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The international community, it said should promote democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, and maintain "a carefully calibrated" approach, responding to performance, not promises.

If the government continued along previous lines, it recommended that diplomatic relations be downgraded, that the Commonwealth move to suspend Zimbabwe's membership, and that the European Union consider suspension of its privileged trade access. The ICG is a private, multinational organisation which seeks to help the international community anticipate, understand, prevent and contain conflict.

IRIN has been unable, after several attempts in the past week, to reach government officials for comment on the report. [For the full ICG assessment entitled, 'Zimbabwe: Three Months after the Elections', see:]

SOUTHERN AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs, 4 October

ZIMBABWE: Mugabe agrees to discuss resignation

In a sign of growing pressure from his ruling ZANU-PF party, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has conceded to debate his future as party leader, senior party sources said on Tuesday. DPA reported that he had agreed to discuss the issue of whether Mugabe will run in the next presidential election at the party's congress in December.

At previous party congresses, attempts to raise Mugabe's leadership and his succession have been blocked by party officials who refused to put the questions on the agenda. Mugabe has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980.

ZIMBABWE: Non-payment leads to World Bank blacklist

JOHANNESBURG, 4 October (IRIN) - The World Bank on Tuesday said it had put Zimbabwe on a list of bad payers after the country failed to service its loans for a period of more than six months.

In a statement released in Washington, the bank said President Robert Mugabe's government owed a total of US $47 million in outstanding payments, while its total debt amounted to US $889 million. The bank added that it had put this debt amount on a non-accrual status.

"This action was in accordance with the bank's established policy of placing all its loans and credits to, or guaranteed by, a country in non-accrual status if payment on any loan or credit is overdue by more than six months," the statement said.

According to analysts, the inclusion of Zimbabwe on the bank's list of bad payers means Zimbabwe will no longer be eligible for any World Bank loans. Other international banks, donors and investors, added the analysts, were more likely to shun the country as the result, which would further worsen the economic crisis faced by Zimbabwe.

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and major donors last year suspended aid to Zimbabwe after the government failed to control public spending and for misleading the IMF about its spending in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Zimbabwe also faces serious foreign currency shortages, resulting in failure to pay foreign suppliers of fuel and other raw materials.


Bud Day, University of Zimbabwe, Medical College <> and by Carol Thompson, University of Zimbabwe, Political and Administrative Studies

[first distributed September 13, 2000 to the Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA) by the Northern Arizona Peace and Justice Network. Please note that archives of action alerts, updates, and event announcements among member groups of ADNA are now available on the web at]

There is concern among many activists in Southern Africa because the media and even liberals in the USA are labeling Zimbabwe as a 'failed state' or that it is 'self-destructing.' Further, many analyses of Zimbabwe rely on the simplistic notion that removing President Robert Mugabe will solve everything. As activists, we do need to expose every human rights violation, every breach of the rule of law, and every corrupt act.

However, there has never been a livelier debate in Zimbabwe -- political, economic and social (e.g. gender rights). The people of Zimbabwe have shown their patience, their determination and their bravery in holding general elections, in voting, and in constantly organizing in many civil society organizations to resolve the problems. The press daily criticizes any abrogation of law and order by the government, and it is exposing corruption, probably to a higher degree than the US establishment media is exposing US corruption. The churches are a strong voice of conscience, with leaders assisting in democratic organizing. Labor is highly organized and militant, as the recent general strike revealed. The women are working in at least two dozen organizations to be represented in the political discussions, in land redistribution, in stopping the violence, in ending the HIV-Aids crisis. National developmental NGOs are highly efficient and working to overcome the extreme poverty by empowering rural peoples.

As for the government itself, within the parliament, the debates are very lively and highly critical of executive branch policy. The court system remains quite independent and ruled just recently that one executive action was null and void (discounting all mailed ballots for the election). Only the executive branch of the government is still acting unilaterally and very often, irresponsibly. One could point out many governments, including the USA, when such a case was operative, and it took time to change it. Within the ruling party, Zanu-PF, there is much debate, and power struggles, over the next steps, economic and political. The cabinet even has a member who says he will not join a political party (Minister of Trade and Industry Nkomo) in order to remain independent enough to do his job, and the Minister of Finance has pledged that all government agencies will follow the budget (Makoni).

Zimbabwe -- its civil society, its political parties, and most of its government -- remains very democratic, involving higher levels of commitment and participation than other, more mature democracies.

Zimbabwe's economy, however, is failing. The reasons for that are many, including corruption. However, the concern is that in the USA, analysts seem to have forgotten the international context which is marginalizing all African economies. The debt of Zimbabwe in 1991, when it signed on to the IMF structural adjustment program (SAP), was equal to its defense expenditures during the 1980s when it was defending itself against apartheid incursions. Any new government in Zimbabwe will be strapped with apartheid debt.

The war in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) was caused by an invasion by Uganda and Rwanda, encouraged by the USA, with the government of Zimbabwe defending the standing DRC government against military overthrow, a long-term policy of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The war is highly unpopular among the Zimbabwean people, who criticize that expenditure, relative to social development needs, for the engagement was taken unilaterally by Mugabe, without reference to the parliament. With 6 governments and 3 guerrilla forces involved militarily, (colonial) instability in the DRC remains, yet global corporations are able to continue mining the minerals for incredible profits. The majority of the Zimbabwean people are demanding complete, immediate withdrawal, while knowing that any new government in Zimbabwe will be burdened with another (in addition to Angola) giant neighbor in turmoil.

As predicted by progressive Zimbabwean economists who advised not signing, the SAP has de-industrialized Zimbabwe; according to the latest figures, manufacturing output has declined by 25% since its high in 1991, with textiles now below its 1980 level. Structural adjustment has dismantled the internationally award-winning primary health care system in Zimbabwe and has made primary education unaffordable for many parents. HIV/AIDS has reduced life expectancy in Zimbabwe to about 43 years. As is true in every other country where it has been implemented, SAP has also increased corruption in Zimbabwe.

No international agency or government has taken seriously the need for land redistribution by offering sufficient funds to do it. When South Korea and Taiwan redistributed land, American aid provided hard currency to pay farmers for their land and the US army went to the farms with the South Korean army to enforce it. Land inequity in Southern Africa is a legacy of apartheid. No amount of planning or transparency will provide sufficient funds in Zimbabwe, Namibia or South Africa to compensate current land-holders and to settle, with infrastructure, new farmers.

Instead of quickly labeling 'Zimbabwe' (the people, the state, the executive or the economy?) as 'self-destructing,' we must insist on linking the suffering of the peoples of Southern Africa to the wider global issues.

Many Americans are involved in concerted work on debt cancellation, peace, HIV/AIDS, the WTO, structural adjustment. It is important to use the abysmal and rapid deterioration of the Zimbabwean economy to illustrate the effects of

  • economic apartheid (land and inequity)
  • colonial wars, which become endless civil wars --Angola and DRC (USA is #1 exporter of armaments)
  • onerous debt (apartheid debt)
  • global corporations (mining for profit and directly fueling war)
  • structural adjustment programs (privatization of health care/essential drug programs, education fees unaffordable to poor)
  • USA fast-tracking intellectual property rights over drugs and plants, resulting in unaffordable medicine of all kinds, in biopiracy (TRIPs Plus, USA T rade and Development Act 2000)

The people of Zimbabwe are highly organized and dedicated to change; your understanding and advocacy contribute to their efforts!

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC provides accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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