The Friends of Zimbabwe, a group of Western countries including the United States, Britain and the European Union, has called on Zimbabwe to hold credible and legitimate elections that are free of violence and that accept the will of the people.
In a statement issued yesterday by the United States’ State Department, the group says the Zimbabwean government needs to create the enabling environment for such elections and has to agree on and implement significant reforms as stipulated in the Global Political Agreement.
President Robert Mugabe has said harmonised elections will be held next year. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change says only presidential elections should be held because it was the results of these elections that was disputed and not those of parliamentary elections.
Members of the group met in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 10 at the height of the release of several Wikileaks cables which revealed that the United States had been working for almost a decade to get Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down.
The group commended significant gains that the inclusive government had made and pledged to spend more than US$500 million in 2011 on collective programmes.
Zimbabwe has complained that aid from the West should not be confined to humanitarian programmes only, but should also be directed towards the country’s economic recovery programme.
Below is the Friends’ statement in full:
Zimbabwe Dialogue – The Copenhagen Statement
Office of the Spokesman
December 22, 2010
The following statement was agreed upon by the countries attending a meeting of the Friends of Zimbabwe held in Copenhagen on December 10, 2010.
Participants: U.S., Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, European Commission (EC), EU Council Secretariat, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, African Development Bank (AFDB), United Nations
At a moment when Zimbabwe has to make critical decisions on the way forward, we, friends of Zimbabwe, met in Copenhagen and re-emphasized our commitment to the Zimbabwean people through support for reform and recovery.
We welcomed the progress achieved since the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the formation of the Inclusive Government, including the restoration of basic services, the constitutional process, launching of Human Rights, Media and Electoral Commissions and a significant improvement in macroeconomic management.
However, serious concerns remain relating to the protection of fundamental rights, the rule of law, governance and respect for agreements.
Credible and legitimate elections in line with Southern African Development Community (SADC) guidelines, that are free of violence and that accept the will of the people, are central to democratic transformation in Zimbabwe. To reach this point, the Zimbabwean government needs to create the enabling environment, and agree on and implement significant reforms as stipulated in the GPA. Zimbabweans should not face violence and intimidation to cast their votes.
We welcomed ongoing regional efforts to support democratization in Zimbabwe and we actively encourage regional actors, and SADC and South Africa in particular, to further assist Zimbabwe in ensuring the conditions for credible, legitimate and peaceful elections. We are ready in response to review and adjust, as appropriate, the full range of our efforts and policies.
We commended the significant gains in macroeconomic stabilization and encourage the continuation of efforts aimed at strengthening economic recovery, the promotion of enhanced transparency and the implementation of structural and legal reforms, including the protection of property rights that will help attract foreign investment. We look to international financial institutions to deepen their engagement, including, inter alia, through an IMF Staff-Monitored-Program when all requirements have been met.
The increasing state revenue and strengthening the public finance system provide an opportunity to improve living conditions of ordinary Zimbabweans. It is critical in this regard that the development of natural resources is pursued in a transparent manner that empowers and benefits the people. A critical example of this is Zimbabwe’s compliance with its commitments under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for rough diamonds.
Collectively, we are intensifying our efforts to support democratic reform, enhance the livelihoods of the poor, and restore basic services. Programs benefit Zimbabweans regardless of political persuasion. For example, through the now operational ZimFund, support is provided for the rehabilitation of water and power delivery systems. In 2010, every child in primary school has been provided with new text books, and 600,000 households have received agricultural inputs. In 2011, we expect our collective programs to total more than $500 million. We intend to continue to provide our assistance taking into consideration the priorities of the inclusive government as reflected in the budget and in government sector policies.
The coming months will determine Zimbabwe’s prospects for the years to come. We remain committed to helping achieve the goal of a prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe.