Is Zimbabwe really ‘open for business’?

Last Friday the IMF announced a $510 million loan to the Zimbabwean central reserve. The loan is a giant symbolic step for the power sharing arrangement and some Harare politicians are claiming a new dawn. However, after seven months, obligations to the Agreement remain unfulfilled and donors skeptical; this is a false dawn.

Last Friday the IMF announced a $510 million loan to the Zimbabwean central reserve. The loan is a giant symbolic step for the power sharing arrangement and some Harare politicians are claiming a new dawn. However, after seven months, obligations to the Agreement remain unfulfilled and donors skeptical; this is a false dawn.

The loan was a major objective for the political alliance, affording substantial political rhetoric for proponents of power sharing; it is the first involvement of the organisation for 10 years. Eddie Cross, a senior economist for the MDC, said “the magnitude is very obvious; it will be half our budget next year”.

From its acrimonious birth, power sharing was political pragmatism.

The MDC had to rescue Zimbabwe from a deadly cholera epidemic, non-functioning schools and hospitals and rampant inflation (231 million %).

With their work to improve relations with major humanitarian organisations and introduce foreign currency, the rescue is underway, but solutions are distant. 

The MDC and MDC-T spearhead the long-term developmental drives, controlling departments of international development and finance amongst others.

It is a clear incentive for Mugabe who’s otherwise incapable of attracting foreign assistance.

Tsvangirai has reaped some funds from diplomatic missions, Britain pledged $93 million and the USA $73 million. The commitments however reflect a latent scepticism of the political agreement, and ZANU-PF’s continued disregard.

Commenting on his fund-raising efforts, Tsvangirai complained ‘this does not represent the support we could receive if we were able to fulfil our political obligations’.

An estimated $8 billion is needed for economic restructuring; the need is far higher. Equally the IMF loan – with conditions itself – is the only source available to the government, donors have so far delivered only humanitarian aid through active NGO’s.

Political mistrust exists within the Union. The IMF funds are going to the central reserve, run by Mugabe’s stooge Gideon Godo. Eddie Cross said “the money will be tightly controlled; otherwise it will go to nefarious projects and corrupt institutions”.

Whilst ZANU-PF blames the MDC for the funding shortfalls, it rests a result of disjunction between new ideals and Mugabe’s unchanged habits.

On a recent visit, Amnesty International described human rights improvements as ‘woefully slow’.

State sponsored violence remains endemic, with calls by the MDC for justice to 200 supporters killed in elections last year remaining ignored. ‘Without these reforms’ Human Rights Watch recently declared, ‘the political agreement will continue to be built on sand’.

Tsvangirai seems unable – or unwilling – to demand the necessary action. He has been criticised by MDC supporters of sacrificing too much to Mugabe to save the GPA reportedly becoming ZANU-PF’s ‘apologist’.

Recently, speaking to a thousand of an estimated million Zimbabwean asylums in the UK, he was jeered whilst saying Zimbabwe is a country of ‘peace and stability’.

Tsvangirai rejects these criticisms, saying he’s ‘not bending over backwards’.

However the alternative to compliance for the MDC is political wilderness, perhaps this explains why Tsvangirai can say of the relationship with a man who has tried to kill him three times, ‘over time you develop some chemistry’.

For Tsvangirai ‘this is not a perfect marriage; it is a marriage to get things done’. Whilst immediate relief has been achieved and Zimbabwe is open for business, it seems that with the continuing political fragility, business is not coming to Zimbabwe.

philiprushworth89@hotmail.com

 

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