Zim now insolvent, failing State: ICG

HARARE - The International Crisis Group (ICG), a Brussels-based think-tank run by retired statesmen, says Zimbabwe is now an insolvent and failing state, its politics zero-sum, with President Robert Mugabe (pictured)  failing to fix the economy, or normalise external relations.

The conflict monitoring and resolution group said in its latest bulletin that a year on, Zimbabwe faces multiple social and economic problems, spawned by endemic governance failures and compounded by a debilitating ruling party succession crisis.

“Both Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) are embroiled in major internal power struggles that distract from addressing the corrosion of the social and economic fabric,” said the report, titled Zimbabwe: Waiting for the Future.

“Zimbabwe is an insolvent and failing State, its politics zero sum, its institutions hollowing out, and its once vibrant economy moribund. A major culture change is needed among political elites, as well as commitment to national as opposed to partisan and personal interests.”

Despite visibly waning capacities, 90-year-old  Mugabe shows no sign of wanting to leave office, while the succession battle within Zanu PF is presented as a two-way race between Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, but the reality is more complex.

“Public battles have intensified, with intimidation and violence a disquieting feature. Mugabe’s diminished ability to manage this discord will be severely tested ahead of its December National People’s Congress,” the report says

The ICG said the elevation of First Lady Grace Mugabe to head Zanu PF’s Women’s League has complicated succession dynamics further. Grace, 49, entered politics two months ago after being endorsed to head the Women’s League and will take over the role in December at the party’s annual congress. The post will allow her to sit on Zanu PF’s powerful politburo.

ICG says without major budgetary support, the ruling party cannot deliver on election promises.

“Deals with China to improve infrastructure provide some respite, but will not resolve immediate challenges,” the ICG said.

Last month, Mugabe visited old ally China where he signed several infrastructural development agreements.

ICG said international support from both East and West would help to maximise recovery prospects.

“Options are limited by acute liquidity constraints, policy incoherence, corruption and mismanagement,” the report says.

The ICG says neither the government, nor the opposition has a plan the country is willing to rally behind and sledged the Zanu PF economic blueprint ZimAsset as predicated on “populist election promises and wishful thinking.”

“The government has squeezed the beleaguered tax base further, securing limited fiscal remedy and generating resentment,” the report says.

“The MDC-T and other opposition parties are sidelined. Their cachet with international players has been severely dented.”

ICG said prospects for a common opposition agenda were remote, as is any chance of inclusive national dialogue to map the way forward.

“For the first time since 2007, the MDC-T is suggesting mass protest is a real option, but if past performance is any indicator, Zanu PF will redeploy security forces when required,” the ICG report says.

Opposition supporters planning a protest against Mugabe’s government have accused authorities of sending sinister messages through religious leaders in an attempt to intimidate opponents, with authorities stepping up security to quell the prospect of protest marches against the 90-year-old president.

The think tank also noted that international financial institutions are engaging, albeit tentatively, as the government explores financing options.

The EU was set to lift the remaining economic measures against Mugabe and his government early next month, while the US has maintained sanctions but continued pumping in humanitarian aid into Zimbabwe. In the face of a torrent of rhetoric from Washington, Zimbabwe´s president has shown stubborn defiance to western threats and American-led sanctions and has missed no opportunity to cry out loud as a victim of western vilification, double standards and what he has repeatedly called “rank hypocrisy”.

ICG says donors must balance commitments to rebuilding relations with the Zimbabwe government, with support for improved governance and tackling democratic deficits.

“Trust is affected by uncertainties around unimplemented reforms and commitment to the new constitution and the rule of law, concerns about policies, and anxieties around succession,” the report says.

“Some in Zanu PF now admit that a new tack is required.”

Mugabe, who took over as chair of the Sadc in August 2014 and will chair the African Union (AU) from early 2015, has an unprecedented platform to secure some positive aspects of his legacy, ICG said, though he is unlikely to use this as an opportunity for rapprochement.

To avoid prolonged uncertainty and possible crisis, ICG said Zanu PF should decide conclusively at its December congress who will replace Mugabe were he to be incapacitated or to decide not to seek re-election in 2018; hold an inclusive national dialogue with the opposition and civil society on political, social and economic reforms; and clarify and act on key policy areas such as indigenisation, land reform and the rule of law, as well as anti-corruption initiatives; and  discipline members who engage in voter intimidation, fraud or other offences.

The political opposition, ICG says, should establish a consultative mechanism, in conjunction with civil society, that seeks consensus and dialogue across the political spectrum on priority — in particular economic and governance — reforms; and review 2013 election flaws through a forward-looking agenda that addresses major concerns projected for the 2018 polls, including voters roll and anomalies in electoral legislative amendments.

The think-tank says the Sadc and AU should encourage Zimbabwe to address election-related concerns identified in their respective 2013 observation mission reports, while China should encourage Zimbabwe’s government to promote political inclusiveness and policy coherence in efforts to resuscitate the economy.

Comments (10)

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 1 October 2014

It would be very odd for Zim to get a positive report from the ICG!!...in fact, from their name all they see are crises!! I've got a feeling that the retired statesmen running ICG have RETIRED brains as well!!

ZVOKWADI - 1 October 2014

A wishfull article bordered on nonsensical and idiotic imperialist who are crying day in day out over their failure to make Zimbabwe a failed state, WHAT BITTER POWER STRUGGLE IS THERE BETWEEN MDC AND ZANU PF, MDCT lost the ground long back and there are no longer important in the history of this thriving nation, despite the west,s evil sanctions. Just leave us alone.

reason - 1 October 2014

This Thriving nation!!! Really ??? Give us the numbers and indicators that show it is a thriving nation. I will give just a bit to show it is a failing if not already a failed state : No Clean water, if its there there is massive rationing. Massive load shedding of electricity, Over 80% unemployment. No working national public transport system/rail system or airline. The worst roads in Africa. A country in the top ten of most corrupt countries in the world. A country with no currency of its own. A country whose only thriving industry is vending and touting. GDP in 1981 was 630 picked up to 732.62 in 1997 and is now down to 441.15 this year. Is this a thriving nation or failing state. let me have yo numbers?

chama - 1 October 2014

mugabe atadza

Harare - 1 October 2014

reason will give his/her reasons another time not today. he is in a zimbabwe of his own. pls forgive him for seeing the thriving of the country alone.

sunga - 1 October 2014

Apart from the ICG report, it is undeniable that our country is insolvent and requires a new and better governance. also it is explicit that neither ZANU PF nor MDC T have a clue. Zimbabwe needs the best governance from the Kingdom of God. As a country we must repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Prince - 2 October 2014

A country with a quarter of it's total population residing in other peoples' lands as economic refugees with only about 20% of those that remain in the country in formal employment. A country that had a record breaking run away inflation never seen before outside of a war zone and had to adopt it's perceived enemy's currency after it's own currency was abandoned by the populace. A slowly dying nation led by someone older than even those retired ICG elder statesmen. A country that is looking at any avenue to tax it's already over taxed people and can not pay it's own civil servants can only be described as a failed nation. The defination of a failed state has Zimbabwe written all over it.

Dr Know - 2 October 2014

When it comes to Zimbabwe very little if any of what the ICG has predicted in the past 15 years has come to be. Do these guys live in Zimbabwe?

Observer - 2 October 2014

Internal party strife does not lead to insolvency. Dangerous capitalist thinking. No wonder the group is for retired.

liberty shungu - 3 October 2014

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