抵抗与否认:津巴布韦停滞不前的改革议程
抵抗与否认:津巴布韦停滞不前的改革议程
Table of Contents
  1. Overview
Revolt and Repression in Zimbabwe
Revolt and Repression in Zimbabwe
Briefing 82 / Africa

抵抗与否认:津巴布韦停滞不前的改革议程

概况

津巴布韦的过渡和改革呈现出僵局。2008年9月津巴布韦三大主要政党签署的《全面政治协议》还远未完全实施。要在预计将于20个月内举行的选举前应对和解决主要的安全和法律秩序的问题前景渺茫。2011年4月,《全面政治协议》的定期审议机制指出最突出的问题尚未解决,谈判达成的解决办法一再被拖延,且似乎成为一种难以改变的模式。自此之后的这半年来也未有任何重大变化发生。为可持续的政治和经济复苏奠定基础的机会不断被破坏。暴力和镇压成为迫切的问题,但警方似乎不愿或不能有效阻止这些事件发生或者对此进行补救,而要期待联合监督与执行委员会(JOMIC)更主动地参与解决政治暴力问题尚需时日。

地区组织南部非洲发展共同体(SADC),在3月31日发表其“政治、防务与安全合作机构”(Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security) 的公报后,表示将采取更为强硬的态度的承诺尚未兑现。争取民主变革运动(MDC)的两大竞争组织已经大力欢迎由南非总统雅各布·祖马领导的南非发展共同体调解小组更积极地参与到津巴布韦的事务中来。但是,在当前权力分配格局中仍占主导地位的总统穆加贝的津巴布韦非洲民族联盟-爱国阵线党(ZANU-PF)对调解小组进行阻挠,尤其是由于它希望保留其对于安全部门的垄断控制,因为它依赖安全部门作为其领导权的最终防线。

《全面政治协议》并没有明确如何最终进行选举。问题总是围绕着选举将于何时举行,在选举之前能完成怎样的改革展开。津巴布韦非洲民族联盟-爱国阵线宣称自由和平等的选举所需的条件已经或很快就能满足并要求在2011年举行选举。南非发展共同体对此进行否认,认为首先需要的是改革。津巴布韦非洲民族联盟-爱国阵线最近在九月份再次呼吁在2012年第一季度进行选举,似乎也同样不现实。大多数分析家一致认为,津巴布韦最早可能可以准备好进行选举也要到2012年年底。然而,宪法撰写的最终定稿以及对选举和媒体改革的实施可能会进一步被拖延,再加上安全和法律秩序等方面的考虑,2013年上半年是更为现实的举行选举的时间。

10月底和11月初政治暴力和镇压的高涨,以及津巴布韦非洲民族联盟-爱国阵线被指责联合警方共同进行政治镇压,已经被一些分析家解释为试图瓦解《全面政治协议》和尽早举行选举的又一次尝试。穆加贝最近表示他不能强行决定一个2012年的选举日期,表明他的党内正逐渐意识到不达成共识就进行选举将是适得其反的。但党内的强大力量,特别是那些推动穆加贝参加连任选举的力量,仍然致力于令投票尽快举行。津巴布韦非洲民族联盟-爱国阵线12月6日至10日在布拉瓦约的会议应该明确它到底将支持和推进什么选举政策。

南非发展共同体,与非盟一起作为《全面政治协议》的保证人,需要确保如果选举最终将在具有足够自由和平等的条件下举行,就要在一些关键问题上取得切实进展。党际谈判基本忽略了在安全与法律和秩序问题上存在的分歧。南非发展共同体需要找到改变这一状况的方法。其策略一直是将《全面政治协议》的改革议程减少到只包含更易管控的一系列优先事项,并加强对改革实施的监控。一个反映《全面政治协议》的尚待解决的问题的选举路线图草案已经制定,但有关政治暴力、安全部门改革、津巴布韦选举委员会(ZEC)构成和《全面政治协议》监控的关键分歧仍未解决。六月份,南非发展共同体批准了“政治、防务与安全合作机构”的建议,将部署一个技术小组与联合监督与执行委员会共同工作。增强南非发展共同体的眼线对其促进协议实施的能力至关重要,但目前有关部署尚未进行。

自《全面政治协议》签署以来,危机组织多次指出津巴布韦在过渡阶段的两大挑战是:建立一个成熟的政治体系,使政党间能够进行合作和负责任的竞争;以及应对可能破坏有意义的改革的安全问题。本简报评估了南非发展共同体在三月份之后的重新定位,以及与不断变化的安全形势有关的政治和体制发展。

约翰内斯堡/布鲁塞尔,2011年11月16日

I. Overview

Transition and reform appear stalemated in Zimbabwe. Profound deficits remain in implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed by Zimbabwe’s three main political parties in September 2008. Prospects are remote for engaging core security and law-and-order concerns before elections that are anticipated within twenty months. Nothing significant has changed in the half year since April 2011, when the GPA’s Periodic Review Mech­an­ism reported that most outstanding issues were unresolved; that negotiated solutions are followed by interminable delays in execution appears to have become an entrenched pattern. Opportunities to build a foundation for sustainable political and economic recovery are consistently undermined. Violence and repression are pressing concerns; the police appear unwilling or unable to provide effective deterrence or remedy and the expectation of a more proactive engage­ment by the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) around issues of political violence has yet to bear fruit.

The promise that the regional organisation, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), would take a more robust stand following the 31 March communiqué of its Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security has not yet been adequately borne out. The two competing formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have largely welcomed the more proactive engagement of SADC’s facilitation team, headed by South African President Jacob Zuma. But President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party, which retains the dominant role in the current power sharing arrangement, has frustrated it, not least because it wishes to preserve the monopoly control of the security sec­tor it relies on as the ultimate line of defence for its hegemony.

An election endgame was implicit in the GPA. The questions were always when would the vote be held, and what reform could be achieved beforehand. SADC rejected ZANU-PF’s claim that conditions for free and fair elections have or shortly can be met and its demand for a 2011 vote, saying that reforms were needed first. ZANU-PF’s most recent call, in September, for elections in the first quar­ter of 2012 seems equally unrealistic; most analysts concur that the earliest the country could conceivably be ready is late that year. The likelihood of further delays around finalisation of the constitution-writing process and implementation of election and media reform, as well as the security and law-and-order considerations, suggest, however, that the first half of 2013 is much more realistic.

An upsurge in political violence and repression in late October and early November, compounded by allegations of ZANU-PF and police complicity, has been interpreted by several analysts as a renewed attempt to force collapse of the GPA and an early vote. Mugabe’s recent admission that he cannot force a 2012 date suggests the realisation is grow­ing within the party that efforts to impose elections without consensus would be counter-productive, but powerful forces within it, especially those pushing for Mugabe’s re-election candidacy, remain committed to a vote sooner rather than later. ZANU-PF’s conference in Bulawayo on 6-10 December should clarify what it will push for.

SADC, as guarantors with the African Union of the GPA, needs to secure tangible progress on several key issues if elections are ultimately to be held in conditions that are sufficiently free and fair. The divisive security and law and order issues have essentially been ignored or avoided in the inter-party negotiations. The regional organisation needs to find a way to change this. Its strategy has been to reduce the GPA’s reform agenda to a more manageable set of priorities and to strengthen monitoring of implementation. A draft election roadmap, reflecting unresolved GPA concerns, has been drawn up, but key disagreements on political violence, security sector reform, composition of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and GPA monitoring remain unresolved. In June, SADC approved the Organ Troika’s recommendation to deploy a technical team to work with the JOMIC. Augmenting SADC’s eyes and ears is essential to its ability to facilitate agreements, but symptomatically the deployment has still not happened.

Since the signing of the GPA, Crisis Group has continually identified two major transition challenges: to develop a mature political system that enables both cooperation and responsible competition between the political parties, and to cope with security issues that threaten to undermine mean­ingful reform. This briefing assesses SADC’s post-March repositioning, as well as political and institutional developments related to the evolving security situation.

Angry protesters barricade the main route to Zimbabwe's capital Harare from Epworth township after the government announced a hike in fuel prices, on 14 January 2019. AFP/Jekesai Njikizana
Q&A / Africa

Revolt and Repression in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean government’s decision to hike fuel prices has sparked fierce opposition. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Senior Consultant Piers Pigou explains how economic hardship is driving ordinary citizens to unprecedented acts of resistance.

What triggered this explosion of unrest?

On 12 January, in response to persistent fuel shortages compounded by manipulation and mismanagement of a currency crisis, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a fuel price hike of over 200 per cent to $3.31 per litre – making the country’s petrol price the highest in the world. It is unclear how this move would address the shortages, outside of pricing fuel out of the reach of many; already, the knock-on effects of transport and commodity price increases are adding evident stress to ordinary Zimbabweans’ lives.

The massive rise sparked a general strike, along with widespread protests, which in many areas was characterised by violence and considerable destruction of property. Those behind the strike did not call for demonstrations, but thousands, especially young people, took to the streets, with many looting shops and burning cars or buildings. Protests were concentrated in and around the main opposition strongholds, the capital Harare and Bulawayo, but also appeared in cities elsewhere across the country. In turn the government ordered a vicious clampdown – deploying soldiers as well as police.

At the end of the second day of protests on 15 January, Zimbabwe’s Doctors for Human Rights released a statement saying “hundreds shot, tens estimated dead in rampant rights violations across Zimbabwe”. Their assessment included reports of 107 patients treated for gunshot and blunt trauma wounds. For days after that, it was hard to obtain updated casualty figures. The government blocked internet services, both at the outset of the unrest and again on 18 January, severely disrupting the flow of information and contributing to widespread confusion.

The scale of violence is the worst the country has witnessed in some time.

On 18 January, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum was able to publish consolidated statistics counting 844 human rights violations during the general strike. These numbers include: at least twelve killings; at least 78 gunshot injuries; at least 242 cases of assault, torture or inhumane and degrading treatment, including dog bites; 466 arbitrary arrests and detentions; and many displacements (with the number being verified). Other violations are invasion of privacy, obstruction of movement, and limitation of media freedoms and access to information. 

Protesters have also engaged in intimidation, violence, vandalism and looting. The government confirmed that they stoned one police officer to death; there are several unconfirmed reports of fatalities and injuries among the security forces. The extent of the property damage has yet to be determined, though human rights groups have documented at least 46 instances. The country’s main cities are at a standstill.

The government and media have accused the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), trade unions and civil society groups backed by foreign funders (the U.S. and Germany were named) of orchestrating the protests as part of a campaign to undermine the government and elevate the MDC’s leader, Nelson Chamisa, into office. Such accusations are par for the course when the government faces protests; based on past experience, it seems unlikely it will supply compelling evidence to support these claims.

Did the unrest come out of the blue?

Anger at the government has been building for some time. On my last visit to the capital Harare in December 2018, the country’s economic woes were plain to see. Prices in shops were soaring, retailers were closing down and queues for petrol were lengthening as the country struggled to juggle payments for competing import priorities. Control over the country’s fuel supply is in the hands of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and the huge financial benefits that come with it are reportedly causing factional rivalry. There is widespread public speculation that the shortages are caused by inter-elite squabbles or even deliberately engineered.

People in Harare complain that the administration is akin to a new driver in an old taxi.

The price hike thus ignited the already dry tinder on the ground. On 13 January, one day after the announcement, civil society groups backed a call by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions for a three-day “stayaway”, or general strike.

Underlying the skyrocketing prices of fuel, food and other goods is a currency crisis that has been worsening through much of 2018. In 2009, facing similar hyper-inflation, the government abandoned the national currency, and switched the economy over completely to the U.S. dollar. After an election in 2013 in which it ran on a platform of job creation and economic recovery, the ZANU-PF government demonstrated astonishing levels of financial delinquency. It “financed” its own systematic over-expenditure with massive borrowing. Domestic debt, which stood at just $442 million in 2013, surged to $10.5 billion by February 2018 and has climbed further over the last year. In 2016, as more and more dollars drained out of the economy, the government introduced a new “bond note” currency, nominally at parity with the dollar, in an attempt to make up for cash shortages, as well as direct electronic payments into bank accounts for goods and services. These payments included the salaries of civil servants, the last bastion of formal employment. It was the equivalent of printing money over and above the value of the reserves in the central bank.

The government continues to claim parity between the bond note, electronic balances and the dollar. With most financial transactions being cashless, this mythology of official parity was maintained, although the bond notes and electronic reserves were trading at a lower rate. But both the latter quasi-currencies have rapidly depreciated since the government introduced fiscal and monetary reforms in October, leading prices for goods and services to spike across the board. The runaway inflation in turn has prompted panic buying and widespread shortages of critical goods such as medicines. It has cut the value of ordinary citizens’ earnings and savings by more than half, further impoverishing an already struggling populace.

In the weeks following the fiscal reforms, as purchasing power evaporated, the entire public-sector work force began organising to confront the government. Since early December, Zimbabwean doctors have been at loggerheads with the government, crippling central parts of an already degraded health care system. On 8 January, the Apex Council, an umbrella body representing civil servants, issued the government the statutory two-week notice that it would call a general strike to protest the government’s refusal to pay civil servants in hard currency, namely U.S. dollars.

Is there precedent for this level of violence accompanying protests in Zimbabwe?

The scale of violence is the worst the country has witnessed in some time. Before 1 August 2018, when the military shot dead six civilians in Harare, Zimbabwe’s security forces did not use live ammunition in crowd control. Now they seem to rely on it.

In another escalation, the government has deployed the military to suppress protests and make arrests, highlighting the ineffectiveness of the police or, as some believe, that the government does not trust the police to crack down on protests with sufficient fervour. The response also reflects an embedded military influence in government decision making and could usher in a new phase of repression in Zimbabwe.

Nor has the country seen a comparable level of violence, looting and destruction by ordinary Zimbabweans. Some of it is undoubtedly orchestrated, but most appears to be spontaneous. More than ever, young people are willing to confront the government in the streets, reflecting desperation and their deep-seated frustration. Anecdotes are surfacing of huge sections of road being shut down and railway carriages being dragged off the rails and into the streets, signaling new levels of revolt. Such actions suggest a growing number of Zimbabweans are less risk averse in terms of a confrontational approach, adding a highly dangerous new element into the mix.

Just fifteen months ago, a coup forced strongman Robert Mugabe from office. Wasn’t Zimbabwe full of hope then?

The optimism that accompanied the ouster of long-time President Robert Mugabe in November 2017 has evaporated. For a time, many Zimbabweans thought his replacement, Mnangagwa, might be a reformer, though he had long been a ruling-party stalwart who was Mugabe’s vice president. The international community, including a number of critics, were prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Now, however, cynicism is growing in many quarters, albeit for diverse reasons. There are signs of discontent even among ZANU-PF loyalists and members of the security forces, who are also bearing the brunt of economic decay.

Controversy blighted Zimbabwe’s much anticipated elections on 30 July 2018, even though the courts endorsed the outcome. Many believe that the use of state resources in Mnangagwa’s favour pushed him over the finish line in the presidential contest. Unprecedented spending by the government ahead of the elections contradicted promises of financial prudence. The MDC refuses to recognise Mnangagwa’s government as legitimate, while the government accuses the opposition of being unpatriotic and promoting a nefarious regime change agenda. The country is polarised, attitudes on both sides have hardened and prospects for bridge-building have withered.

Since the elections, the new government has managed to deliver few tangible results. People in Harare complain that the administration is akin to a new driver in an old taxi. Many see the government simply as a reconfiguration of the ZANU-PF, now freed from Mugabe but dominated by security-sector interests and factions aligned to the new president.

Questions are also surfacing over President Mnangagwa’s judgment. He left the country immediately after announcing the fuel price hike, ostensibly to search for trade deals in Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. But such deals are unlikely to resolve the immediate economic issues facing Zimbabwe: while he may drum up some foreign investment in the country, those governments will not provide much needed budgetary support. Nobody believes that Mnangagwa will enjoy anything like the enthusiastic reception he got last year if he goes, as planned, to this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.

Already in December, one of Zimbabwe’s leading political scientists was telling me that “the light at the end of the tunnel has gone out”. He meant that Mnangagwa’s government, while consolidating its authority politically, would be unable to deliver a sustainable, broad-based economic recovery.

[F]urther unrest in the coming days, weeks or months is a question of when, rather than if.

What could happen next?

For almost two decades, observers of Zimbabwe have warned of pending economic collapse, mass hunger and social implosion. Conditions steadily worsened, but Zimbabweans employed an impressive array of survival strategies, from emigration producing diaspora remittances to work in the informal sector, where “making a plan”, as per a common expression, has become something of an art form. The apparent stability has fed complacency, a sense that Zimbabwe can keep on bumping along the bottom. But evidence on the streets now suggests that may no longer be true.

The security clampdown is continuing. Notwithstanding its chilling effect on some potential protesters, further unrest in the coming days, weeks or months is a question of when, rather than if. Another initiative for a general strike is already in motion; calls for a “Stayaway 2” on 23-25 January are circulating on social media. Key questions are how organised it will be, given the likelihood that many organisers of the initial street actions are detained, and how the state will respond. Already, there is a de facto nationwide shutdown as towns and city centres remain empty. People cannot move freely because transport is too expensive. Many cannot afford to go to work.

Zimbabwe desperately needs reform if the government is to keep the country reasonably stable and preserve its re-engagement with international donors

At the same time, the information gap makes it difficult to judge what is happening. Amid endemic misinformation and fake news, some exaggeration of the country’s disarray is likely in play. But in any case, it is unlikely that the mood of confrontation will dissipate quickly. The government may be able to put a lid on unrest and take activists off the streets, but that will not address the conditions that have brought people out. More confrontational protests seem inevitable even if the crackdown curbs protests for now.

What should outside powers do about Zimbabwe’s crisis?

The biggest challenge at this juncture is to get the government to do something about the unrest besides shoot and arrest protesters. Zimbabwe desperately needs reform if the government is to keep the country reasonably stable and preserve its re-engagement with international donors, a process that started with Mugabe’s ouster. To pull off that reform, it needs broad political consensus, including within both the ruling party and the opposition, but also within other social constituencies. The country is polarised on multiple fronts – ideally the government would commit to supporting the development and implementation of some form of national reconciliation strategy to at least start to heal these divisions. For now, however, such a strategy is not even part of political discourse.

It is unclear, however, who has the leverage to nudge the government from repression to reform – or if anyone wants to do so. In the neighbourhood, the Southern African Development Community did not immediately respond to the unrest. Wider international reaction has been muted. Civil society groups have expressed concern and diaspora groups have marched in Johannesburg. But the South African government, traditionally engaged in Zimbabwean politics, has downplayed the situation. With the prospect of more bloodshed and large-scale refugee flight, the region, and indeed the world, cannot afford to ignore the crisis.

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