STATEMENT BY SADC HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT ON ZIMBABWE
We, the SADC Heads of State and Government, meeting in Windhoek, congratulate the Government and People of the Republic of Zimbabwe on the manner in which they conducted their parliamentary elections on 24 and 25 June, 2000.
We further express satisfaction that the elections were held in a transparent, peaceful, free and fair environment, in accordance with our shared democratic principles and values.
We welcome, with appreciation, the balanced, professional and objective assessments of the electoral process made by the SADC Parliamentary Forum and OAU observer missions.
We are disappointed by the partisan and biased manner in which a sector of the international media has misrepresented the land policy of the government of Zimbabwe which seeks to effect a just and equitable redistribution of land in a situation where one percent of the population owns over seventy percent of the best arable land.
We reiterate our acceptance of the urgent need to effect land redistribution in Zimbabwe to address land hunger and poverty affecting millions of black Zimbabweans.
We welcome the assurance given by the President of Zimbabwe that the land reform programme would be handled peacefully, and within the provisions of the laws of Zimbabwe.
We are convinced that to have a land reform programme which is fair and just to all the stakeholders, it is imperative for the United Kingdom government to honour its obligations under the Lancaster House Agreement to provide resources for that purpose. In this regard, the Summit requested the Presidents of South Africa and Malawi to make representations to the United Kingdom Government on behalf of the region.
We are therefore greatly concerned about the Bill cited as the "Zimbabwe Democracy Act of 2000" passed by the US Senate on 23 June, 2000 seeking to impose on Zimbabwe, a land reform programme and a political dispensation as prescribed by the US Senate.
The Bill, inter alia, seeks to authorise the US President to support opponents of the democratically elected Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, including financing propaganda activities against Zimbabwe. We further note, with concern, that the Bill also aims to subvert Zimbabwe's economic foundation by prohibiting assistance or debt relief from being extended to Zimbabwe by the USA and by any international financial institutions to which the USA is a member.
This punitive piece of legislation is counter-productive and unjust since it will have far reaching negative implications for the economic development and evolution of democratic institutions in Zimbabwe in particular and the region in general. We find it regrettable that this Bill is being proposed at a time when Zimbabwe is involved in a challenging economic recovery programme and when we in SADC are trying to deepen the integration process in our region. The Bill will mark a major setback in our community building efforts.
We therefore, urge the US Congress to reconsider its policy and withdraw the Bill before it is passed into law. In this regard, we direct the Foreign Ministers of the SADC Troika and Zimbabwe as well as our Ambassadors in Washington D.C. and the SADC Secretariat to make representations to the American Congress projecting the SADC common position on this matter. We also call on the region's civil society groups and Parliaments to rally behind the people of Zimbabwe against this Bill.
Issued by the Office of the Presidency, 7 August 2000