si-font-family: Arial-BoldMT; mso-bidi-font-family: ‘Times New Roman'”>STATEMENT BY DOUGLAS GIBSON MP
DA SPOKESPERSON ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The 27th anniversary of Zimbabwean independence today is the most dismal in that country’s history. President Mugabe has turned one of the “jewels of Africa”, to use Former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere’s description, into a disaster area. Life continues, becoming worse for Zimbabweans instead of better. President Mugabe and Zanu-PF must accept full responsibility for what they have done.
This anniversary day may act as an impetus, spurring the African Union and SADC to start taking steps which will result in real change. Surely Africa in general and South Africa in particular can no longer sit patiently, hoping for something to turn up.
Once again, the Zanu-PF government proves just how fragile life is for the average Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe already faces:
80 percent unemployment;
Shortages of wheat, sugar and petrol;
Massive HIV/AIDS infection rates; and
1 in 3 high school drop out rate.
And the country will soon have to contend with:
A wage freeze;
A fuel price hike; and
Inflation predicted to reach 5000 percent by the end of 2007.
These are all signs of an impending disaster for Zimbabwe that will affect the entire population and the region.
The word from the office of the South African Presidency is that there is “some movement” in President Mbeki’s mediation with Zanu-PF and the MDC. We have heard all of this before, and the situation continues to worsen. Therefore we call on President Mbeki to announce what has been achieved and what has failed in the mediation, and to finally admit that the last seven years of quiet diplomacy have in fact failed. A new approach is necessary or else ordinary, vulnerable Zimbabweans will be the ones that suffer.
The time has arrived for a new road map for Zimbabwe, which clearly marks out successive steps aimed at restoring democracy and good governance to that benighted country.
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