British Zimbabweans respond to historic unity deal

Thamsanqa Zhou

Although it does not represent the ideal, most Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom celebrate the signing of a deal facilitating a government of national unity in our country.

It provides the best opportunity for peace, prosperity and reconstruction. Despite coming on International Democracy Day, the deal is not an end in itself, but a visible milestone in the long and painful journey toward real democracy in Zimbabwe.

While acknowledging the commitment expressed by the signatories president Robert Mugabe and new prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, we recall that this is the third time Mugabe has entered into a unity government deal. History therefore informs us to be cautious and remain on guard.

Zimbabweans have suffered for too long to let this opportunity slip by. We therefore kindly ask donor communities around the world to extend a generous hand to enable charitable organisations to at least begin to feed the starving masses. We appeal with humility, to the international community to exercise patience and fellow Zimbabweans to be cautious as the country crawls through the muddy road to recovery and rehabilitation.

The Global Zimbabwe Forum on behalf of Zimbabweans living in the UK hopes the new government will have the following priorities. To:

 • Stop all forms of political violence and start a programme of economic recovery.

 • Restore law and order and abolish unjust laws that have been used to oppress Zimbabweans.

 • Initiate a genuine and transparent programme in pursuit of justice for all victims of political violence and reconciliation.

 • Invite civil society to undertake a thorough and impartial baseline assessment of the socio-economic situation in the country to determine resources needed for rehabilitation and rebuilding.

 • Provide, with immediate effect, a safe environment for non governmental organisations to begin relief work in the most affected areas of Zimbabwe.

 • Put in place, safeguards to protect the country from further political instability.

 • Work collaboratively with the diaspora forums on a programme to enable Zimbabwean refugees who choose to return to do so safely.

 • Restore the right for Zimbabweans in the diaspora to vote.

 • Allow dual citizenship to enable Zimbabweans who so choose to contribute fully to societies that have hosted them during the difficult times.

 • Address the land issue.

* Thamsanqa Zhou is co-ordinator of Global Zimbabwe Forum UK.