Zimbabwe’s 14 Million citizens are facing major economic, social and political challenges. Since the end of the coalition government (2009-2013) between ZANU-PF and MDC-T and the landslide win of ZANU-PF under Robert Mugabe in 2013, the country’s economic crisis has led to ten thousands of formal jobs lost, thousands of companies closed, a cash liquidity crisis that suffocates any economic activities, a growing informal sector and a decline of economic growth.
But not only the economic transformation process came to a halt; the democratisation process that started over a decade ago with a strong opposition movement from political parties, trade unions, churches and civil society has come to an end. Political and socio-economic rights, that are now enshrined in the Bill of Rights are mostly disregarded or denied by state institutions. The new, progressive constitution that was adopted in 2013 is yet to be fully implemented in the country’s laws and the government has repeatedly faulted on protecting fundamental rights like the freedom of association, freedom of expression and access to information. New institutions like the Human Rights Commission or the Gender Commission that the constitution provides for are blatantly under-resourced and put under the control of respective ministries.
Instead of widespread patronage, corruption and mismanagement by parastatal companies, ministries and authorities Zimbabwe needs a profound economic reform that focuses on socially just and environmentally sustainable investments in infrastructure, education, health and a business-friendly environment to create decent jobs and promote the formalisation of the informal economy.
The process of re-engaging the international community that the ZANU-PF-led government started in 2014 focussed mainly on the negotiation of payment of debt arrears to the international financial institutions in order to get access to new loans the government desperately needs to cover its rising budged deficit. The European Union, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other international partners are supportive of any reform steps the government announces, but the current government has failed so far to deliver concrete economic reforms to stabilise the financial sector, create viable monetary policies to curb the cash crisis and to implement the rule of law failing to build trust among all economic actors locally and internationally. Mostly affected by this reform inertia are the vulnerable groups of society such as young, female or elderly people.
The FES office in Zimbabwe supports progressive actors in trade unions, civil society and independent media organisations and cooperates with political institutions (i.e. Parliament, Ministries and other state institutions). Partners and activities in Zimbabwe are linked to the regional and international networks, with an emphasis on socio-ecological transformation, democratisation, peace and security.