More than three years after the inauguration of Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government (IG) in February 2009, the piecemeal and painfully slow transition process is finally gathering some speed. It now seems as though the referendum on the new Constitution will take place before the end of 2012, followed by elections in the first half of 2013, which will once again pit President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party against Prime Minster Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC.
While the IG has succeeded in restoring economic stability, the bickering between the three GPA parties has also affected the delivery of basic services – and hopes for sustained economic growth. In addition, the parties have failed to deliver many of the political reforms in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that are essential for free and fair elections – including a free and fair media environment and a reformed electoral system with a clean voters’ roll. There has also been no movement towards reforming the security sector, which could well – as it did in 2008 – prevent the will of the electorate from being respected by ensuring that Mugabe stays in power.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has played a more constructive role in recent years but it has still been unable to ensure that key reforms are undertaken. Critically, SADC has demanded an end to violence but on-going intimidation in rural and urban areas has intensified fears that the next elections could see a repeat of the widespread violence that marred the 2008 polls. SADC needs to take the lead to ensure that these reforms are implemented so that free, fair and peaceful polls can take place – and so that the genuine winner can take power. SADC has demonstrated greater intent but still insufficient political will to take tough action. International support could tip the balance.
The 2012 budget estimated that GDP grew 9.3% in 2011 and projected a similar figure for the current year. Annual inflation – once measures in the millions – will average 3-5% in 2012. Almost 2/3rds of the US$4 billion budget will be spent on civil service salaries. Interestingly, the budget expects a sizeable fall in mining growth from 25.8% to 15.9% due to uncertainty surrounding elections and mixed reactions on the implementation of the indigenization and economic empowerment laws.