A New Zimbabwe April 2007

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Three great foreign policy relationships will need to be addressed after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. The first concerns the West and is of prime economic importance. The second is the burgeoning rapport between Harare and the Chinese. The third is the delicate question of how to manage the irrevocable influence of South Africa.

In June 2002 the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, an African Union body, undertook a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe. The mission made a number of findings, conclusions and recommendations dealing with national reconciliation, democracy and human rights.

In the unlikely event that President Robert Mugabe loses the presidential election in 2008, this should not be an opportunity for trading one dictatorship with another. It should be a process that allows for meaningful and inclusive participation by the people who for so long have been denied a voice to determine their own destiny.

For the country's first post-Mugabe government, perhaps as early as next March if elite deal-making unfolds as promised, job number two, after restoring a semblance of democracy, is economic. Given the meltdown of Robert Mugabe's version of crony-statist-capitalism, the new model chosen will reverberate across the world.

Good government has to be of the people, by the people and for the people. All these elements have been lacking under the sad, dark days of Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF dictatorship. All the people of Zimbabwe, not just the new political leaders, need to take control of their own destiny.

Despite numerous laws protecting the rights of women, they are still bearing the brunt of economic and physical hardships in the country. It is important for greater attention to be paid to the effects of certain policies on the lives of women, writes Dr Fareda Banda.

The reputation of Zimbabwe's judiciary is in tatters. The public seem to have lost all confidence in the country's judges, whose attitudes and interpretation of law they find questionable, and in most instances where politically motivated crimes are being dealt with by the courts.

"Grocery shopping is the biggest stress in my day-to-day life as I cannot afford to buy much. Groceries are so expensive that quality of life has been reduced to a mere existence." Even for working professionals, the cost of living in Zimbabwe has made essentials like petrol, medicine and food, unaffordable, says Polite Makowa.

Zimbabwe's trade-union leaders and members have been murdered, arrested, tortured and beaten -- but their determination to overcome oppression is firmer than ever, writes Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

Any economic recovery strategy in Zimbabwe will have to be driven by Zimbabweans, but will require international support, spanning the full range of aid, debt relief, and private finance. Here are five constructive steps that the international community should take.

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