Zimbabwe: DA’s five-point plan for democratic reform

daJOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has grown increasingly concerned with the approach of both the ANC government and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to the Zimbabwean political situation - and how both parties' refusal to challenge President Robert Mugabe's despotic behaviour will impact the fortunes of South Africa, and Southern Africa more broa

As a party concerned with solutions, and mindful of the impact that Zimbabwe’s fate will have on our own country, the DA today presented a document to, firstly, offer a brief overview of Zimbabwe’s current social, economic and political state of affairs and, secondly, identify the key obstacles to progress in that country. Thirdly, this document seeks to present a set of proposals to map a successful way forward in Zimbabwe.

The signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in September 2008 and subsequent formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in February

2009 – a process spearheaded by former President Thabo Mbeki – effectively threw tyrannical President Robert Mugabe a political lifeline. By abusing state resources for political gain, retaining control of key components of the state, such as the military, and failing to comply with the provisions of the GPA, President Mugabe has, using a combination of violence, rhetoric and deft political maneuvering, staged a successful political comeback.

In conducting an analysis of Zimbabwe’s political, economic and social prognosis, one must therefore remain mindful that the South African government, driven by the misguided foreign policy agenda of the ANC, helped to change a defeated President Robert Mugabe’s political fortunes.

For reasons of both national and regional importance, the ANC government cannot be permitted to continue with its tacit support of President Robert Mugabe’s attempts to undermine political progress in Zimbabwe.

Instead, the South African government needs to move towards playing a central role in positively shaping Zimbabwe’s political fortunes, and galvanising support from SADC and the AU to compel the GNU to work towards democratic reform.

The DA will seek to employ all available mechanisms to ensure that Zimbabwe’s pursuit of a democratic dispensation is afforded the greatest possible chance of success. In this regard, the DA has compiled a five-point plan for democratic reform in Zimbabwe:

. Early next year, the DA will launch a campaign focused on achieving political progress in Zimbabwe. This campaign will begin with the launch of a revised roadmap to democracy in Zimbabwe. This document, an update to that released by the DA in October 2009, will include an analysis of the provisions of the GPA and provide a more detailed explanation of our proposals for progress in Zimbabwe.

. The DA will continue to drive key issues pertaining to Zimbabwe in the free media. Central to this will be intensifying political pressure on the South African government to ensure that free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe after the mutual acceptance of a new constitution. The DA regards the sustained presence of independent electoral monitors – both from outside southern Africa and within it – as critically important in this regard. The DA will also use the media and other mechanisms to exert pressure on the African Union, SADC, the United States and the EU to act decisively in dealing with the current situation in Zimbabwe, as well as applying political pressure to ensure that the legitimacy and authority of SADC and its Tribunal are re-established.

. The DA will seek to pressure President Jacob Zuma to deal more effectively with the Zimbabwean coalition partners and hold him and his foreign ministers accountable for how the Zimbabwean political situation unfolds. President Zuma must also be encouraged to emphasise to the Zimbabwean protagonists that electoral laws require revisiting, and that they need to lend their support to an impartial and effective Electoral Commission.

. The DA will continue to support targeted sanctions. Only when key political concessions are made, such as the establishment of an independent electoral commission and the generation of a credible voters’ roll, would the lifting of such restrictive measures be supported.

. The DA will, where appropriate, exert legal and political pressure on Zimbabwe itself. Until President Robert Mugabe is removed from politics, possibly through an amnesty agreement for him and his henchmen, free and fair elections cannot be staged. Should President Mugabe fail to commit to such an agreement, the DA will seek to bring him before the International Criminal Court to be tried for human rights abuses and acts of torture committed during his rule.

South Africa, as a powerful influence in Southern Africa, has the potential to be a trailblazer for change in the region. In taking a decisive stand against the authoritarian and repressive agenda of President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, and in doing all that it can to see free and fair elections hosted in Zimbabwe, the ANC government stands to make a lasting contribution to African regeneration, and the continued political and economic stability of our own country.

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