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September fifteenth marks the first anniversary of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement, or GPA, the hard-won accord aimed at ending the campaign of state-sponsored violence surrounding last year’s presidential election and paving the way for a transitional government. While some progress has been made since the opposition party joined the government, alongside the ruling ZANU-PF, more reforms are still needed for the occasion to be worth celebrating.
Despite the agreement, tensions amongst the parties are rising as the government parties confront issues of power-sharing and control of key ministries. Meanwhile, police, prosecutors and court officials loyal to ZANU-PF continue politically motivated prosecutions of opposition lawmakers and civil society members, while turning a blind eye to human rights abuses by ruling party supporters.
The harsh treatment that President Robert Mugabe and his loyalists meet out to their political opponents has caused many in the international community, in previous years, to cut some forms of development aid and apply targeted sanctions to Mugabe and his inner circle.
While some argue that these targeted measures are preventing Zimbabwe from rebuilding its demoralized government and shattered economy, in actuality they serve to motivate change on the part of those who have hindered democracy and abused human rights in Zimbabwe. To see those targeted measures modified or eased, those affected must show by their actions that they truly embrace democracy and reform.
The United States welcomes recent statements by South African President Jacob Zuma urging the parties to the GPA to resolve outstanding issues and fully implement the agreement for the good of the Zimbabwean people. Indeed, the U.S. wants to work with South Africa to advance democratic reform and ease the suffering of all Zimbabweans.