Washington, DC – Paul Fagan, Regional Director of Africa programs at IRI, testified today before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights chaired by Representative Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ).
In his testimony, Fagan stressed the importance of U.S. focus on Zimbabwe. “The imminent constitutional referendum and national elections have the potential to graduate the crisis in Zimbabwe from a steady but manageable simmer to boiling over. A return to a situation similar to that which followed the first round of the 2008 presidential elections would not only have significant human consequences but would erase any positive political advances made over the last two and a half years.”
Fagan went on to highlight challenges facing the Government of National Unity and preparations to holding national elections. “Assuming the GPA [Global Political Agreement] partners can come to a final agreement on an election date, numerous conditions must be met for a free and fair election to occur, including the institution of an impartial Zimbabwe Election Commission, the creation of an accurate voters roll, amendment of the Public Order and Security Act, the opening of space for the independent media, meaningful electoral reform, the facilitation of domestic and international election observers, and most importantly, the end to tactics of violence and intimidation.”
In conclusion, Fagan highlighted options for the Congress to consider:
- The U.S. should develop a more robust policy toward Zimbabwe that extends beyond targeted sanctions;
- The Southern African Development Community (SADC) should be the leading force in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis;
- The U.S. should make clear what it views as an acceptable outcome of the referendum and election process;
- The U.S. should be prepared for numerous scenarios in a possible post-Mugabe era; and
- The U.S. should engage in an integrated diplomatic approach to Zimbabwe.