The following statement was agreed upon by the countries attending a meeting of the Friends of Zimbabwe held in Oslo on June 1, 2010.
Participants: U.S., Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, European Commission (EC), EU Council Secretariat, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), United NationsBegin text:
Our meeting today underlines our continued support for Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government and our wish to see the speedy resolution of the outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which have been the focus of intense negotiation in recent months. While recognizing that GPA is an agreement achieved between parties in Zimbabwe for transitional power-sharing and democratic reforms, we consider the implementation of the GPA as the basis for our re-engagement in Zimbabwe. We agreed that, while some aspects of the situation in Zimbabwe have improved since the Berlin meeting last October, in order to support a truly sustainable solution to the numerous problems Zimbabwe faces, much work remains to be done to implement the range of commitments made by the parties in September 2008.
The focus of our discussions today has been how we, as friends and development partners, can best assist this Zimbabwean led process towards transformation and democratic recovery. As a group, we resolve to intensify the effort we are making in cooperation with the Inclusive Government to support the democratization process, to protect the livelihoods of the poorest people and to improve the provision of basic services in health, water and education. We are also prepared to support the rehabilitation of key infrastructure which is so essential for economic and social recovery.
Since we met in Berlin in October 2009, the Friends of Zimbabwe have significantly increased their assistance to the country. The UN has played a crucial role in this process. Official Development Assistance, including humanitarian assistance and food aid, reached USD 651 million in 2009 and has been directed towards improving services in health, provision of safe water, education, agriculture, social protection and a range of other essential areas, in line with the priorities of the Inclusive Government. In recognition of the progress achieved in the area of macro-economic stability, the Friends of Zimbabwe also supported the restoration of Zimbabwe’s voting rights at the IMF.
We strongly support the effort being made by South Africa and other regional actors to move the political process forward. We appreciate the determination of SADC and its leaders to act in a strong and principled way and to remain actively engaged. We trust this will lead to the creation of conditions conducive for the holding of democratic elections in accordance with international best practice. Recognizing the Zimbabwean ownership of the constitutional and electoral processes, and the role which countries in the region have to play, we stand ready to support initiatives aimed at ensuring a peaceful and credible electoral process, from the early stages of preparation to the implementation of its results.
The period since the Berlin meeting has seen some restrictive measures against certain individuals and entities eased. These measures are carefully targeted and are kept under review. We remain ready to respond positively to tangible progress made by the Inclusive Government in implementing key provisions of the GPA.
We hope in particular that the outcome of the constitutional process will reflect the views of the people of Zimbabwe. A credible constitution, with support from the people in a referendum, would be recognized as a significant move in the right direction. We noted several positive steps in the last months, including the establishment of the Electoral, Media and Human Rights Commissions, the adoption of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Bill, and the recent granting of licenses for independent media. We now look forward to more concrete action and will keenly follow the progress and implementation of the relevant reforms by the above mentioned potentially important bodies. We stand ready to support them.
Several longstanding concerns remain. These include continuing lack of respect for the rule of law, protection of fundamental freedoms, and the slow pace of progress in improving governance.
We urge the parties to accelerate the implementation of their outstanding commitments under the GPA. The lack of progress in this area undermines the ability of the Inclusive Government to deliver the change which ordinary Zimbabweans expect, and hampers full re-engagement with the international community. We share the concern of the private sector, both international and domestic, about the negative consequences of the recently published regulations on indigenization for the already fragile investment climate. We recognize the urgent need for constructive and progressive empowerment measures which add value to Zimbabwe's economy, and stand ready to support effective efforts in this regard. Genuine empowerment, and the return of millions of skilled Zimbabweans to their homeland, is best achieved by respect for the rule of law and the creation of an enterprise-friendly environment, including the respect of Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements. We urge Zimbabwe to pursue the extraction of its natural resources in a manner that benefits its citizens. We note the critical importance of Zimbabwe’s compliance with its obligations under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for rough diamonds, including its obligation to implement the joint work plan agreed to in November 2009.
We will continue our assistance in 2010 and 2011 both to support efforts to fully implement the GPA and to address the pressing humanitarian, social and economic challenges the country faces. This support will not at this point in time be distributed via the Government budget. Several existing pooled funds and programs are now functioning well. In addition, we have today welcomed the speed of the African Development Bank’s response in establishing the MDTF, approved by its Board of Executive Directors. A number of donors hope to be able to make an early commitment to it. It will be managed by the African Development Bank with technical support, as required, from the World Bank. This Fund will play a critical role in supporting the transition process by financing the revival of Zimbabwe’s infrastructure in line with priorities identified by the Inclusive Government. We look forward to Zimbabwe deepening its engagement with the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank to anchor the progress made on economic stabilization and to manage and reduce its heavy debt burden. Improved economic policy performance and an agreed approach to arrears clearance by the Government of Zimbabwe and the International Financial Institutions are important prerequisites for moving towards an IMF Staff-Monitored Program (SMP).
Political progress and the implementation of commitments agreed to by the leaders of Zimbabwe are pivotal to peace, prosperity and full engagement with the international community. This is the outcome to which the Friends of Zimbabwe have committed themselves once again today.End text.