Slow GPA Progress Undermining Zimbabwe

In a communique on Wednesday after a meeting in Oslo, the group said delays in implementing the GPA was also hampering full re-engagement with the international community. 

“Our meeting today underlines our continued support for Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government and our wish to see the speedy resolution of the outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which have been the focus of intense negotiation in recent months. While recognising that GPA is an agreement achieved between parties in Zimbabwe for transitional power-sharing and democratic reforms, we consider the implementation of the GPA as the basis for our re-engagement in Zimbabwe.”

“Several longstanding concerns remain. These include continuing lack of respect for the rule of law, protection of fundamental freedoms, and the slow pace of progress in improving governance,” said the group.

The group said it shared  the concern of the private sector, both international and domestic, about the negative consequences of the recently published regulations on indigenisation for the already fragile investment climate.

“We recognise the urgent need for constructive and progressive empowerment measures, which add value to Zimbabwe’s economy, and stand ready to support effective efforts in this regard. Genuine empowerment, and the return of millions of skilled Zimbabwean to their homeland, is best achieved by respect for the rule of law and the creation of an enterprise-friendly environment, including the respect of Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements,” it noted.

“We agreed that, while some aspects of the situation in Zimbabwe have improved since the Berlin meeting last October, in order to support a truly sustainable solution to the numerous problems Zimbabwe faces, much work remains to be done to implement the range of commitments made by the parties in September 2008.

“The focus of our discussions today has been how we, as friends and development partners, can best assist this Zimbabwean led process towards transformation and democratic recovery. As a group, we resolve to intensify the effort we are making in cooperation with the Inclusive Government to support the democratisation process, to protect the livelihoods of the poorest people and to improve the provision of basic services in health, water and education.”

The group said it was ready to support the rehabilitation of key infrastructure which was essential for economic and social recovery

Since its last meeting in Berlin in October 2009, the Friends of Zimbabwe had significantly increased their assistance to the country. The UN had played a crucial role in this process. Official Development Assistance, including humanitarian assistance and food aid, reached USD 651 million in 2009 and had been directed towards improving services in health, provision of safe water, education, agriculture, social protection and a range of other essential areas, in line with the priorities of the Inclusive Government.

“The period since the Berlin meeting has seen some restrictive measures against certain individuals and entities eased. These measures are carefully targeted and are kept under review. We remain ready to respond positively to tangible progress made by the Inclusive Government in implementing key provisions of the GPA,” noted the group.

“We hope in particular that the outcome of the constitutional process will reflect the views of the people of Zimbabwe. A credible constitution, with support from the people in a referendum, would be recognised as a significant move in the right direction. We noted several positive steps in the last months, including the establishment of the Electoral, Media and Human Rights Commissions, the adoption of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Bill, and the recent granting of licenses for independent media. We now look forward to more concrete action and will keenly follow the progress and implementation of the relevant reforms by the above mentioned potentially important bodies. We stand ready to support them.”

“We will continue our assistance in 2010 and 2011 both to support efforts to fully implement the GPA and to address the pressing humanitarian, social and economic challenges the country faces. This support will not at this point in time be distributed via the Government budget. Several existing pooled funds and programmes are now functioning well.”

“Political progress and the implementation of commitments agreed to by the leaders of Zimbabwe are pivotal to peace, prosperity and full engagement with the international community. This is the outcome to which the Friends of Zimbabwe have committed themselves once again today.”