As the chief South African Development Community (SADC) negotiator in Zimbabwe, President Zuma should have ensured that this loan request be used as an opportunity to exercise legitimate leverage over our neighbour’s faltering democratic institutions.
This represents a lost opportunity on the road to peace for Zimbabwe. This loan will raise the ire of South Africans who will struggle to see why our government is dishing out resources that are desperately needed at home without ensuring that this will contribute to the political stabilisation of Zimbabwe.
South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan met with his Zimbabwean counterpart, Tendai Biti, on Friday to discuss “budgetary support” to be provided to Zimbabwe.
The DA has written to Minister Gordhan, urging him to ensure that any loan funding granted to Zimbabwe is strictly conditional on adherence to the roadmap for peaceful political transition outlined in the Global Political Agreement. We specifically requested that funding should not be provided to Zimbabwe if:
i) agreement is not reached on a new Zimbabwean constitution;
ii) an election is called before the new constitution has been finalised and agreed to by all relevant parties; and
iii) funding is not ring-fenced for specific projects.
The money is seemingly earmarked for specific functions – including preparations for an upcoming constitutional referendum, agricultural projects and end-of-year bonuses for government officials, but it is not clear how the funds will be ring-fenced.
No political conditions have been attached to the loan.
Economic assistance with political conditions is not uncommon. A recent loan to Swaziland was conditional on the implementation of specific political reforms.