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International Crisis Group Says Zimbabwe Crisis is Not Exaggerated

The International Crisis Group says the political impasse in Zimbabwe, believed to be the cause of the country’s deepening economic woes is not exaggerated. This followed a statement by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa that the crisis in Zimbabwe is overblown. Political analysts have criticized leaders of the just ended Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, for failing to take action against Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe due to his inability to resolve the political and economic crisis in his country.

Sydney Masamvu is a Zimbabwean senior analyst with the International Crisis Group in South Africa. From Pretoria, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the crisis in Zimbabwe needs to urgently be resolved.

“We are seeing a lot of diplomacy at play. I do not want to read too much into what President Mwanawasa said, but one could just see that SADC is just trying to present some semblance of homogeneity in terms of their approach to the Zimbabwe situation. And given President Mwanawasa’s earlier comments on Zimbabwe where he likened the state of affairs to that of a sinking titanic, one could see that this time around he is the incoming chair of SADC and taking over at a time where for the worst or for the best a decisive move has to be made on Zimbabwe during his tenure as the SADC chair,” Masamvu noted.

He said all political and economic indicators point to a very distasteful situation in Zimbabwe.

“The economy has been shrinking for the last six seven years, in the negative growth, all the social indicators are in the negative. So really you cannot exaggerate the suffering of the people,” he said.

Masamvu said although the problems of Zimbabwe should be solved by its people, there is the need for past president’s in the region to lend a hand.

“Indeed it’s correct! You need Zimbabweans to sort out their problems themselves, but secondly, you need even African solution to African problems. No wonder why everyone is lauding the SADC initiative, for it puts African leaders to tackle one of their own, and over and above as what the Zambian minister is saying that he needs the retired African statesmen. It’s actually correct, that’s the take two approach, which SADC should take on board to capacitate in the SADC mediation process,” Masamvu pointed out.

He said retired statesmen like Nelson Mandela should be called upon to be part of the mediation process initiated by SADC.

“When you look at the current crop of SADC leaders, you get the thinking that Mugabe stands head and shoulders above the current crop of Africa leaders, especially in SADC. As such, the track two diplomatic approach, which should be engaged on Zimbabwe, is to rope in retired presidents who fall in the same political league Mugabe like the former President Kaunda, President Mandela… those are the people who can be used to give leverage to the SADC mediation process to help President Mbeki,” he said.

Masamvu said it was highly unlikely for Zimbabwe to have a completely new constitution as is being advocated by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

“I think the compromise which would happen is that the proposed constitutional amendment Number 18, which is being pushed by ZANU-PF would be used to front load every constitutional reform which needs to be done. So we are actually going to see all the parties compromising on constitutional amendment number 18 and taking that as a vehicle to effect some constitutional reforms. Indeed I need to state from the onset that we are not going to see a new constitution, but rather we are going to see a constitutional review, which would be done under constitutional amendment 18,” Masamvu noted.