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Briefing 103 / Africa

津巴布韦:等待未来

概述

津巴布韦的非洲民族联盟-爱国阵线(ZANU-PF)在2013年7月的选举中获胜,但这并没能给穆加贝总统带来广泛认同的合法性,没能为挽救经济提供基础,也没能使津巴布韦的对外关系正常化。一年后,这个国家面临诸多社会和经济问题,它们是根本性执政失败的产物,而让国家几近瘫痪的执政党内继任危机无疑是雪上加霜。非洲民族联盟-爱国阵线和争取民主变革运动(MDC-T)都卷入了严重的内部权力斗争,无暇应对社会和经济结构受到的侵蚀。津巴布韦是个入不敷出、日益衰颓的国家,它的政治是零和游戏,制度千疮百孔,曾经充满活力的经济也奄奄一息。政治精英阶层需要进行一场深刻的文化变革,并从服务于党派或个人利益转而致力于国家利益。

90岁的穆加贝虽然明显能力日益不济,却没有透露出一丝想要离职的迹象。他党派内的继任之争看上去是副总统穆朱鲁和司法部长姆南加古瓦之间的较量,实际上的情况则要复杂得多。公开的斗争已经激化,以令人不安的恐吓和暴力为典型手段。穆加贝管理这一矛盾的能力已经减弱,而在12月国民议会召开前,又将经受严峻考验。津巴布韦第一夫人格雷斯.穆加贝被提升为非洲民族联盟—爱国阵线妇女联盟的领导人,这使得继任斗争的形势进一步复杂化。

在过去一年里,主要经济部门收缩,政府几乎难以支付工资或者提供基本服务。如果得不到大笔预算援助,政府就无法兑现选举承诺。同中国签订的改善基础设施的协议能稍作缓解,但不能解决燃眉之急。东方和西方国家提供的国际援助将有助于最大限度地提升经济恢复的可能性。但是,由于严重的资金流动困难,政策的前后不一致,腐败和管理失误,可行方案有限。要促进可持续的、包容性的发展,就需要进行有力度的改革。

津巴布韦政府和反对派都无法拿出一个能获得全国支持的计划。非洲民族联盟—爱国阵线提出的“津巴布韦可持续的社会经济转型规划”不过是由平民主义的选举承诺加凭空妄想所构成。本已不堪重负的纳税人又遭政府进一步压榨,结果财政收益有限却引发了民怨。争取民主变革运动和其它反对党则已被排挤到一边。它们的国际声望也一落千丈。各反对派制定共同纲领的可能性很小,为国家前途而展开包容性的全国性对话也不太可能。争取民主变革运动自2007年以来首次提出大规模抗议是切实可行的方案,但根据过去的表现推测,非洲民族联盟—爱国阵线会在必要时再次派出安全部队镇压。

非洲民族联盟—爱国阵线的选举胜利为国内和解和建立国际友好关系创造了机会。在津巴布韦政府探索筹款办法之际,国际金融机构与其有所接触,尽管是试探性的。捐赠国必须在兑现同津巴布韦政府重建关系的承诺同时,支持津巴布韦改善执政和解决民主化的不足,并在两方面取得平衡。由于捐赠国并不确定政府是否决心推进未实施的改革、实施新宪法和推进法制,对其政策充满担忧,而且对政权继任感到焦虑,双方的信任受到了影响。非洲民族联盟—爱国阵线中的一些人现在承认,他们需要改弦更张。穆加贝2014年8月接过南部非洲发展共同体(SADC)主席的职务,并将从2015年初开始担任非洲联盟(AU)的主席。这为他保住自己的一些良好政绩提供了前所未有的平台,但他不太可能会把这当作缓和关系的契机。

 

为避免长期的不确定性和可能出现的危机,非洲民族联盟—爱国阵线应当:

  • 在12月的大会上最终决定穆加贝总统一旦丧失执政能力或不在2018年寻求连任,该由谁来继位;
  • 寻求同国内和国际支持者建立互信与合作,方法是(1)同反对派和公民社会进行包容性的全国对话,讨论政治、社会和经济改革;(2)在诸如本土化、土地改革、法制和反腐败等重要政策领域讲明立场并采取行动;以及 
  • 惩罚恐吓选民、选举造假和从事其它不法行为的党员。

为建立公信力,政治反对派应该:

  • 同公民社会联合建立协商机制,以在各个政治派别中就优先改革事项,尤其是经济和执政问题,谋求共识;以及
  • 本着着眼未来的目的总结2013年选举的不足之处,以期解决2018年选举预计会出现的问题(例如,选民名册,选举法修正案中的问题)。

南部非洲发展共同体和非洲联盟应当:

  • 鼓励津巴布韦解决这两个组织在各自的2013年观察小组报告中指出的同选举有关的担忧。

中国应当:

  • 鼓励津巴布韦政府促进政治包容和政策一致性,以实现经济复苏。

对津巴布韦采取制裁和其它措施的国家(例如欧盟、美国和澳大利亚)应提倡一种连贯立场,该立场:

  • 说明津巴布韦政府需采取哪些措施以加快解除剩下的制裁;
  • 依据经济改革和执政改革的成效,整合再接触和发展援助;
     
  • 采取具体行动巩固独立司法、人权和选举机构等支撑民主的制度,并支持公民社会监督和保护宪法权利的能力。

布鲁塞尔/约翰内斯堡,2014年9月29日

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.