Zimbabwe’s economic crisis is linked to its political impasse, but “deep antipathy” between Zimbabwe’s rival political leaders stands in the way of progress, says South Africa’s International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor.
Pandor on Monday convened a meeting at UNISA on South Africa’s role in Zimbabwe, attended by diplomats and academics. She said while SADC made a resolution in August condemning sanctions against Zimbabwe, the region needs to take the further step to devise practical steps to solve what she called “one of the most challenging” economic situations in Southern Africa.
Sanctions on Zimbabwe have not worked and the region may engage those who have imposed them, she says. However, she added, ultimately, the solution must come from Zimbabweans themselves. The country needs inclusive dialogue to end the crisis and bring stability, Pandor said, but the bitterness between political leaders makes that harder.
“As the department we have some appreciation of the nature of the challenges and the various economic and social imperatives. By all accounts there are serious and seemingly intractable political factors that might need attention if solutions are to be effective or implementable. The political formations in Zimbabwe remain at loggerheads and have apparent deep antipathy toward each other which makes joint decision making and planning extremely difficult,” Pandor said.
Zimbabwe is suffering a damaging skills flight, which has benefitted South Africa, but will leave Zimbabwe unable to run key institutions and provide basic services, Pandor said. South Africa, she suggested, may need to “devise innovative forms of institutional collaboration that would help sustain and perhaps restore the efficacy of critical institutions.”
Below is the full text of Pandor’s speech.
Address by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, MP, at UNISA, on 18 November 2019
SYMPOSIUM “BEST PATH TOWARDS A PROSPEROUS ZIMBABWE”
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, the social and economic situation confronting Zimbabwe is one of the most challenging facing the southern African region. We are hosting this symposium as a modest contribution to beginning a process of finding solutions to the many complex challenges which will be resolved primarily by the people of Zimbabwe with the assistance of all countries in the region. The theme of this meeting indicates our belief that we will have to find ways of acting in solidarity with Zimbabwe, it reflects our posture that multilateral solidarity and practical informed action are the best means toward resolving international problems.
At the August SADC summit we all supported a resolution proposing October 25th as a day for calling for an end to sanctions against Zimbabwe. As DIRCO we acted on that SADC decision, but we felt that we may need to go one step beyond such a call and begin a process on reflecting on the solutions that could be considered to actively address the challenges. We have all become very competent at addressing and adopting resolutions yet far too inadequate in informed reflection on what solutions or approaches may be practicable.
I am very pleased that some of our academic institutions and civil society organisations agreed to assist us in exploring this theme.
As the department we have some appreciation of the nature of the challenges and the various economic and social imperatives. By all accounts there are serious and seemingly intractable political factors that might need attention if solutions are to be effective or implementable. The political formations in Zimbabwe remain at loggerheads and have apparent deep antipathy toward each other which makes joint decision making and planning extremely difficult.
It seems clear that even as we support the call for an end to economic sanctions, the political dynamics are inextricably linked to the economic and thus should be confronted simultaneously. This can only be led from Zimbabwe and would certainly ease the development of SADC contributions in response to the emergent compact.
All reports on the economic situation point to a debilitating crisis and social situation that is worsened by international sanctions. The impact on citizens, on public services and public institutions is well known to most of us present here. Basic services are inadequately available, those offering critical services earn very little income and the cost of essential goods such as basic food items is beyond the ability of millions. Sanctions have failed to provide any aid to addressing these problems and may have worsened them.
The situation has been equally negative for those with a livelihood and those without. Zimbabwe has experienced significant loss of skills in the past decade and this has harmed the possibility of efficient management of key economic sectors and institutions.
South Africa has been a beneficiary of the loss of key skills and there has been substantial migration to different parts of South Africa. Finding solutions to this loss of skills will be an important part of the practical actions we should consider. We may have to devise innovative forms of institutional collaboration that would help sustain and perhaps restore the efficacy of critical institutions.
SADC may need to go beyond the resolution we adopted and engage those who have imposed sanctions to agree on lifting sanctions to support the recovery of sectors such as health, agriculture and education.
I hope our panelists will share ideas from work that they have been leading in their respective disciplines. They may be more alert to the possibility of initiating an inclusive political dialogue, or be alert to economic sectors that could promote increased employment and future growth. We do not have the answers as DIRCO and we hope to benefit from the wisdom of this dialogue. The imposed sanctions have not resulted in an end to the problems thus we need a move beyond describing the problems and the identification of key steps toward real change, growth and stability in Zimbabwe.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION