Zimbabwe faces ‘triple whammy’ – UK think tank

Harare – Zimbabwe needs to deliver on political reforms if it is to buttress economic advances achieved so far, according to a leading UK-based research unit.

In a research paper released on Thursday entitled The Domestic and External Implications of Zimbabwe’s Economic Reform and Re-engagement Agenda, international affairs think tank Chatham House said Zimbabwe can only bring back confidence by delivering on promises.

“Confidence will be built on delivery, not on rhetoric,” said the research paper, adding that while limited progress has been made in critical areas such public finance management, “the government must now commit to a long-term strategy that includes political reform to buttress economic advances.”

“Time is of the essence, and ZANU-PF (ruling party) needs to demonstrate that it can embrace both reform and compromise, and deliver economic growth and development for all Zimbabweans.”

The paper noted that successful reform requires unified and sustained commitment on the part of the government.

“The severity of this crisis means that ‘muddling through’ is not a long-term option, particularly as international partners could walk away if they sense that ZANU-PF is just seeking short-term financial relief,” it added.

Chatham House also urged international partners to show commitment by bringing fresh thinking to Zimbabwe’s current crisis and evolving transition to a post-Mugabe era.

“International and regional governmental engagement does not guarantee the success of long-term reform, but continued isolation will almost certainly lead to the failure of reforms to take hold,” it said. It added that a nuanced process of exerting political pressure – balanced with the offer of support – will reinforce the technocratic assistance provided by the international financial institutions, and will be fundamental to ensuring the effective use of any prospective concessional financing.

“At a time when the US administration is reviewing its strategy towards Sudan and its head of state, Omar al-Bashir, US policymakers should do so too with regard to Zimbabwe.”

It added that although the EU and Australia have reviewed their Zimbabwe strategies, including responding to Harare’s re-engagement strategy by revising and in some cases easing their sanctions, the United States and Canada have lagged behind with outdated sanctions lists.

The organisation also added that an unstable Zimbabwe will have significant regional impact.

“Beyond the potential of a major humanitarian and economic emergency within Zimbabwe, the wider region is less resilient than was the case in 2008,” it said.

The research paper said Zimbabwe is at a watershed, faced with its most serious economic crisis since 2008.

“A ‘triple whammy’ of deflation, stagnation and low productivity is exacerbated by low commodity prices, weak regional currencies and drought, in the context of a legacy of poor policy and a political succession battle over who will eventually succeed 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe,” it said. – News24

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