Zimbabwe: No Alternative to Genuine Reforms


President Emmerson Mnangagwa got very useful advice when he met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the just ended seventh International Conference on African Development (Ticad) in Tokyo on Friday.

According to the Japanese government, Abe "mentioned the importance of institutional reforms for promoting business".

He is quoted as having said: "We hope that reform will be promoted and democratisation will be advanced in Zimbabwe under the leadership of President Mnangagwa."

After almost two years of promising sweeping political and economic reforms, Mnangagwa's government has started giving unreasonable excuses for its lethargic approach to dismantling the

Robert Mugabe legacy.

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi recently told the European Union that it cannot expect the government to "respect the rights of the citizens of Zimbabwe when sanctions are still


Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo made a similar pitch recently in an article published by the respected Foreign Policy journal.

He argued that the removal of western sanctions "would strengthen protection of (human) rights and prevent future abuses".

However, the international community, which has now been joined by Japan, is clear that the Zimbabwean government can do a lot more in changing the parlous situation in the country

under the present conditions as long as there is political will.

For instance, western sanctions having nothing to do with police unjustifiably denying Zimbabweans their rights to freedom of assembly and association.

Sanctions cannot be used as an excuse for soldiers that shoot unarmed civilians on the streets or those that rape defenceless women.

The poor investment climate in the country and the unaccounted for millions of dollars fed to a company whose owner has close links to the president under the murky command agriculture

have nothing to do with sanctions.

Zimbabwe will remain in the doldrums as long as the country's leadership does not realise the urgency of genuine economic and political reforms.

There is no single country that will throw its money into a country where the rule of law is not respected and corruption is celebrated.

Not even the Japanese or the Chinese.

Of late, we have seen stories of Chinese investors expressing frustration over the policy inconsistencies in Zimbabwe and the lack of a conducive business environment.

The Chinese have a policy of not commenting publicly about another country's politics, but that does not mean they do not care about the stability of a country when they choose

destinations for their investments.

Rather than burying their heads in the sand, Mnangagwa and his lieutenants must begin doing what is necessary to lift Zimbabwe from the quagmire, which is to urgently enact reforms they

themselves promised when they were pleading for our votes only last year.

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